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Spain’s former king Juan Carlos had nearly 5,000 lovers, says retired colonel

Last week Spain’s former king abruptly left the country where he is at the center of investigations into alleged bribery and money laundering. The news, delivered by Juan Carlos, 82, in a personal letter to his son King Felipe VI, seemed to send shock waves throughout Spain when it was posted on the palace’s website on Monday.

But Amadeo Martinez Ingles, 84, was not surprised. The retired republican colonel has been Juan Carlos’ nemesis for more than four decades. He was expelled from the military for publicly voicing his opinions about the government in 1990, and was more recently fined several thousand euros by a Spanish court for “insults against the crown.” But he seems unfazed. In an opinion article last week, he continued to describe Spain’s Royal House of Bourbon as “a band of drunks, whores, idiots, bastards, nymphomaniacs and lazy thugs.”

For years, he has railed against Juan Carlos’ alleged corruption, asked difficult questions about the shooting death of his younger brother, Alfonso, and chronicled his various extramarital affairs. In his best-selling biography “Juan Carlos I: The King of the 5,000,” Martinez Ingles claims the former king has had nearly 5,000 lovers in his lifetime.

“Juan Carlos I is an authentic sex addict and a sexual predator,” said Martinez Ingles, a decorated soldier and self-styled historian who claims that much of his information about the former king was derived from government intelligence sources. “The most beautiful stars and the most spectacular representatives of high class Spanish and foreign women passed through his bed for temporary trysts, and he also disrespected women from much more modest backgrounds.”

In fact, it was one of Juan Carlos’ former lovers who led to his recent downfall. The revelation of his affair with German-born Danish businesswoman Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, blond and 26 years his junior, occurred after he broke his hip on safari in Botswana where he had gone to hunt elephants in April 2012. The news that Spain’s king had been on a $46,000 hunting trip paid for by a Saudi royal advisor with a much younger lover and had to be flown back to Spain — on a private jet — for emergency surgery, did not sit well in a country that was about to accept a $115 billion bailout to shore up its faltering banks. While he was recovering in a Spanish hospital, political opponents demanded his abdication. Queen Sofia, his long-suffering wife of nearly 60 years, waited three days before visiting the convalescing king, “El Pais” reported.

With the future of the monarchy at stake, Juan Carlos, who enjoyed widespread accolades for steering the country to democracy in 1975 after the death of dictator Francisco Franco, abdicated in favor of his son Felipe VI, in 2014. He had been on the throne for 39 years, and he kept the title of “king emeritus,” which still gives him immunity from prosecution.

King Juan Carlos and Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein
King Juan Carlos and Corinna zu Sayn-WittgensteinAction Press

Last week, the drama surrounding the Spanish royals intensified when Juan Carlos fled to Abu Dhabi with four royal aides in what he claimed was an attempt to deflect criticism away from his son, who had already renounced any inheritance from Juan Carlos and stripped him of his more than $200,000 a year palace stipend. Felipe VI has tried desperately to distance himself from his father’s indiscretions, and one source told The Sunday Times of London that he was the one who demanded that the disgraced former king leave the country. Last week, different reports put Juan Carlos at a golf resort in Portugal and a sprawling estate in the Dominican Republic. The latest has him holed up in the $10,000 a night presidential suite of a lavish hotel in the middle eastern city, according to Spain’s daily newspaper, “ABC.”

Throughout the country, politicians renewed calls for abolishing the royals as the press dredged up other amorous scandals.

Left-wing politician Pablo Iglesias called the king’s exile “unworthy of a former head of state” that left the country’s royal family in a “very compromised position” even as the former king’s lawyers assured the public that he would return to answer any questions and remained “at the disposition” of the judicial system.

Marta Gaya
Marta GayaEuropa Press via Getty Images

Last month, Spanish newspaper “Voxpopuli” featured a bombshell report that the former king had asked his Swiss banker to make two payments of more than $1 million each to his former mistress, Spanish socialite Marta Gaya, from a royal charity. Years earlier, the palace shelled out more than $50,000 to stop publication of love letters between an adolescent Juan Carlos and his older lover, Italian countess Olghina di Robilant.

“He’s an undesirable, a felon, who has taken advantage of the institutional easy chair for nearly 40 years,” said Martinez Ingles in an August 5 article in “Canarias Semanal,” a left-wing weekly. “This scum bag is going to have a bad end, and in these moments he is beginning his own suffering, which will only lead to a personal, political and historical hell.”

In the article, Martinez Ingles demanded that the former king face justice, but not only for recent alleged misdeeds. He wants authorities in Portugal and Spain to open an investigation into the death of his younger brother, Alfonso, shot in 1956 while the Spanish royals were living in the seaside town of Estoril near Lisbon during the family’s exile under the Franco dictatorship.

On the evening of Good Friday, the 14-year-old “Alfonsito” as he was known to his family, had just returned from evening mass. He rushed into the bedroom of Juan Carlos, then 18, who had just arrived for the Easter holidays from the military academy where he was a cadet. What transpired between the two boys that resulted in Alfonso being shot is known only to Juan Carlos, who later admitted to family and friends that he “felt responsible” for allowing his brother to handle a loaded weapon. Franco’s administration issued an official communique after the incident that said in part, “While His Highness the Prince Alfonso was cleaning a revolver with his brother, a shot went off which hit him in the forehead and killed him within a few minutes.”

Don Alfonso
Don Alfonso
Infante Don Alfonso of Bourbon, the younger brother of Juan Carlos, pictured in 1956.

Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Don Alfonso's Funeral
Don Alfonso's Funeral
Don Juan, pretender to the Spanish throne, attends the funeral of his youngest son, Don Alfonso, in Cascai in 1956. Immediately behind him is his elder son Juan Carlos.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The explanation never sat well with Martinez Ingles. For one thing, both boys were skilled in handling weapons. Alfonso had shot a deer, whose horns were on display in the family’s drawing room in Estoril, he said. Juan Carlos was at the time a military cadet who had received nearly a year of “intensive weapons’ training” and would surely have known about the dangers of cleaning a loaded weapon, he said.

And the incident was never investigated, even as Alfonso’s remains were exhumed in 1992 and reburied in the royal family’s pantheon in Madrid. The weapon was reportedly thrown into the sea by the boys’ father, said Martinez Ingles. In court papers filed in 2015, Martinez Ingles demanded that Spain probe what he called one of its worst state secrets.

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