'In Spain, there are two Queens': Calls for King Juan Carlos, 74, to abdicate over rumours he was on controversial elephant-hunt with 47-year-old lover
By Lee Moran
PUBLISHED: 04:30 EST, 19 April 2012 | UPDATED: 04:54 EST, 19 April 2012
Calls are growing for the King of Spain to abdicate following his controversial African elephant hunt - and further claims he was on it with a lover almost 30 years his junior.
The Italian press is reporting that Juan Carlos, 74, was in Botswana with 46-year-old glamorous German princess Corrine zu Sayn-Wittgenstein.
La Stampa newspaper went as far to say that 'in Spain, there are two Queens' - in reference to rumours the monarch has been 'sentimentally linked' to Corrine for 'several years'.
Claims: The Italian press says King Juan Carlos (left) was on the trip with his 'lover' Corinne Larsen (right)
Under fire: Spanish King Juan Carlos (right), pictured during a previous elephant hunting trip in Africa, has come in for criticism
The article alleged the pair, who reportedly first met in 2006 at a banquet in his honour in her southern German town of Ditzingen, have been on several foreign trips together.
It said they later met again during the America's Cup sailing competition in Mallorca - and the mother-of-two has even represented him on some outings.
Corinne, whose maiden name is Larson and who is believed to have organised the hunting trip, is said to have first married Philip Atkins, with whom she had a daughter called Nastassia in 1992.
She later 'became a blue blood', the newspaper said, thanks to her second wedding in 2000 to German Prince Casimir zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, whom she later divorced.
Anger: Juan Carlos (left, on a previous trip) has been slammed for his upper-class pursuit as his country goes through the economic doldrums
Distant: Prince Charles stares into the distance in this 1986 photograph showing him, Diana and the young Princes William and Harry with Queen Sofia and King Carlos of Spain
The Spanish press, often reluctant to criticise the monarch who relinquished his powers to ensure a successful transition to democracy following the death of dictator Francisco Franco in the late 1970s, is remaining quiet on the rumours.
But they have been published on several Italian and South American websites. It has led to Twitter users and blogs to say it is time for him to hand over power to his son Prince Felipe.
It is not the first time claims have surfaced that Juan Carlos is a real-life Don Juan.
Just two months ago an explosive book, by Barcelona-based author Pilar Eyre, claimed he was a 'serial womaniser' who had bedded more than 1,500 women.
Farewell: Spain's King Juan Carlos pictured leaving from the Madrid hospital yesterday
The Solitude of the Queen labelled him a 'professional seducer' who once tried to seduce Princess Diana and who has had numerous affairs and has not shared a bed with his wife Queen Sofia for the past 35 years.
She even claimed the queen stumbled upon her husband with one of his alleged lovers, the Spanish film star Sara Montiel, at a friend’s country house in Toledo in 1976.
The claims cap off a bad week for the Spanish monarch.
Yesterday he apologised for going elephant-hunting in Africa while everyday people in his country endure a severe economic crisis.
In an unprecedented act of royal contrition, he said on leaving a Madrid hospital where he underwent surgery after breaking his hip in a fall on the trip: 'I am very sorry. I made a mistake. It won't happen again.'
He is also facing calls to be stripped of his honorary presidency of the Spanish branch of the World Wildlife Fund.
Juan Carlos del Olmo, the secretary general of WWF Espana, said the king's position as patron had become untenable.
The trip only came to light when the king fell and had to be rushed back to Spain on Friday.
Newspaper reports suggest Mohamed Eyad Kayali, a Syrian-born Saudi business man and right-hand man of Saudi's defence minister Prince Salman, was also on the trip.
Kayali is said to be a key figure in securing a Spanish consortium the €6.7billion contract to build a high-speed rail link between Mecca and Medina.
Unlucky: The Spanish King was on trip hunting elephants in Botswana when he fell after returning to his bedroom in a lodge
Many Spaniards were dumbfounded that the king could make such an opulent journey while everyday people brave a 23 per cent unemployment rate, a shrinking economy and fears the country will be the next after Greece, Ireland and Portugal to need a bailout.
For many, the trip made the king's recent comments about how he could not sleep at night thinking about the country's unemployed ring hollow.
News of the safari caused an uproar so loud it eclipsed Spain's economic crisis for a few days. Members of most political parties had urged the king to say he was sorry.
The palace official confirmed the apology was unprecedented in the history of Spain's monarchy. The royal family has been in the news a lot lately - and not for the best reasons.
The king's son-in-law Inaki Urdangarin is a suspect in a corruption case, accused of using his position to embezzle several million euros in public contracts through a not-for-profit foundation.
Then, over Easter, the king's 13-year-old grandson shot himself in the foot with a shotgun, even though by law in Spain you must be 14 to handle a gun.
Until now, Juan Carlos had always been a highly respected figure in Spain and almost never came in for criticism from either politicians or the media.
The king rarely speaks out on current affairs in Spain.
But with the royal family looking so bad because of the Urdangarin case, in his traditional Christmas address last year, the king made a point of saying 'everyone is equal in the eyes of the law'.
He said he was worried because of what he called growing mistrust of 'some of our institutions'.
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