It appears that poor King Juan Carlos of Spain is entering what might later be known as his Annus Horribilis. As his son-in-law, Inaki Urdangarin, faces allegations of corruption, a potential scandal acutely embarrassing to the Spanish Royal household, along comes another spanner in the works, in the form of Catalan journalist, Pilar Eyre.
Miss Eyre has just unveiled La Soledad de La Reina, The Solitude of the Queen, a sensational title claiming that the king is a serial Lothario and has had many mistresses while his wife, Queen Sofia is portrayed as a lonely woman in a loveless marriage. Oh, here we go again. Of course no such title could possibly spin enough gold for the publisher and author without some passing nugget about Diana, Princess of Wales, and so it’s claimed by the very imaginative Pilar Eyre that the Spanish king attempted to make a pass at the young royal early on in her marriage. If it’s true where is her evidence or is it just the result of an over active imagination? Lest we forget, Pilar Eyre has built her literary reputation on such gems as Cybersex, Vips: all the secrets of the rich and famous, Rich, Famous and Abandoned and It All Started at the Marbella Club. Quite.
Much as this canny scribe might be congratulating herself on making a tidy pile from her unveiling of other people’s soiled linen-as inevitably she will-it could be that this time she’s bitten off more than she can chew. Already Telecinco, a popular TV channel, has cut her contract and refused to review her book and she has also been cut dead by sister channel, Telemadrid. Is censorship at play or are parts of the media just tiring of Miss Eyre’s brassy and willful self-promotion?
The accusations of the king having potential mistresses, shouldn’t really raise too many eyebrows. On a recent visit to the exhibition, The First Actresses, showing at the National Portrait Gallery, I was fascinated by the sheer number of English actresses as far back as the 17th and 18th centuries who served as mistresses to Royals. Famously Nell Gwyn cavorted with King Charles II and Mary Robinson, the poet and actress, was purported to be the sweetheart of George IV. Then there was Rosa Lewis and Edward VII, oh, and more recently Prince Charles and Camilla so quite frankly isn’t it all a bit old hat?
In France and Spain the concept of mistresses is not something that causes wholesale shock and opprobrium. Gallic socialist candidate, François Hollande, is currently happily airing his long-term mistress, Valerie Trieweiler, to the public, while François Mitterand had a daughter with his mistress, Anne Pingeot. Even in po-faced America no one seems to be too bothered by Newt Gingrich’s indiscretion in leaving two wives and marrying his mistress.
In Spain, the rumour mill has been churning out all sorts of excitable stories about ‘other women’ in the life of King Juan Carlos for some years and I don’t think many Spaniards really care two hoots whether it’s true or not. Most believe what goes on behind closed doors at the palace really isn’t any of their business.
The king and his wife are hugely popular and a book of this kind is unlikely to change public opinion. Other than making Pilar Eyre a bundle of cash, it’s hard to say what purpose will be served by dishing the dirt aside from heaping further embarrassment on a family already under siege.
A few years ago when attending a Balearic government event I noticed a glamorous woman being photographed on the arm of a prominent minister. Naively I assumed it was his wife until she arrived at a reception one night with the minister and another older woman in tow. “Who is that older woman?” I whispered to a local journalist. “Oh, that’s his wife and the other is his mistress.” Somewhat scornfully I suggested that it was highly insensitive to the wife’s feelings that the minister should cart his mistress along to such events. He found that very funny. “But don’t you know? The two women are the very best of friends.”
This first appeared in Telegraph Expat. Follow Anna on Twitter @MajorcanPearls
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