Palace to the dock: Spanish Princess Cristina's downfall

Palace to the dock: Spanish Princess Cristina's downfall
A file picture takenon February 8, 2014 shows Spanish Infanta Cristina smiling as she arrives at the courthouse of Palma de Mallorca, on the Spanish Balearic Island of Mallorca.

MADRID - A beaming Princess Cristina and her new husband, the six-foot six-inch Olympic athlete Inaki Undangarin, waved from an open-top Rolls-Royce to crowds of well-wishers on their wedding day on October 4, 1997.

Dressed in a brilliant white designer gown and crowned with a diamond-studded tiara borrowed from her mother, then queen Sofia, the princess's wedding in Barcelona seemed to encapsulate the popularity of the Spanish monarchy.

Now Cristina, one of King Felipe VI's two elder sisters, is to become the first ever member of the Spanish royal family to go on trial, in a scandal that has outraged many Spaniards and contributed to her father's abdication in June.

Her fall from grace could hardly be more dramatic.

After her marriage, the Infanta Dona Cristina Federica of Bourbon and Greece, who represented Spain in the sailing team at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, became a darling of the celebrity press and won praise for having a salaried job.

Her husband, who became Duke of Palma on his marriage, was a dashing, blue-eyed sporting hero.

He was part of the Spanish Olympic handball team in 1992 in Barcelona and then in 1996 in Atlanta when his team won bronze and he met the princess.

The team would go on to win a second bronze in 2000 in Sydney with the duke as their captain.

'Love and trust'

Cristina, 49, was still smiling even as she entered a court in Palma de Majorca in February to answer an investigating judge's questions about suspected tax dodging and money-laundering linked to 46-year-old Urdangarin's allegedly corrupt business dealings.

Cristina, a married mother of four who studied in Madrid and has a masters degree in international relations from New York University, denied detailed knowledge of her husband's affairs, saying she simply trusted and loved him.

Now the judge, Jose Castro, has wrapped up his four-year investigation by ruling that Cristina must stand trial as a suspected accessory to tax fraud by her husband.

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