Ex-lover suing former king over 'surveillance'

The ex-mistress of Spain’s former king Juan Carlos, who set up home in Shropshire, is suing him for “tens of millions of euros”.

Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein
Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein

German-born Danish entrepreneur Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, 57, has gone to London’s High Court, having accused him of ‘unlawful covert and overt surveillance’.

Ms zu Sayn-Wittgenstein bought a home in the rural landscape of the West Midlands, leading a quiet life at the 11-bedroom Chyknell Hall, between Claverley and Bridgnorth, as well as keeping up a home in London.

The High Court was told she had an affair with the 83-year-old monarch, who is married to Queen Sofia, 82, between 2004 and 2009.

Their relationship was catapulted into the limelight in 2012 after he broke his hip during a safari trip to Botswana, on which she had accompanied him. Afterwards Ms zu Sayn-Wittgenstein claimed Juan Carlos “gifted” her £59 million out of guilt for the “intense pressure” she came under and as an expression of his love.

Chyknell Hall, near Claverley

It is believed the payment came out of funds that originated with a $100 million gift to Juan Carlos when he was king from the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in 2008. That led to Swiss prosecutors opening an investigation into bank accounts Juan Carlos allegedly held in tax havens, leading to him abdicating the throne in 2014 and setting up home in Abu Dhabi.

Ms zu Sayn-Wittgenstein has been a popular member of the village community in Claverley. Both she and her son, Prince Alexander, opened a classic car show to raise funds for All Saints’ Church in 2017.

She filed a claim in December accusing Juan Carlos of harassment “from 2012 until the present time”, including threats and defamation, as well as “unlawful covert and overt surveillance” by agents of the former monarch and the Spanish intelligence service.

Spanish King Juan Carlos pictured in 2014

The claim was only made available by the court on Monday, according to reports in the Financial Times. Ms zu Sayn-Wittgenstein is reportedly seeking substantial damages and a restraining order.

Juan Carlos has denied any wrongdoing, but his legal team is yet to file a defence. The case will likely face a jurisdiction battle due to the ex-king not living in Britain and being a former head of state of another nation.

Ms zu Sayn-Wittgenstein states in her claim that her former lover told her he “wanted to ensure that she and her children would be provided for” but he was “concerned that his family would challenge anything he left to her in his will, after his death”.

She added that Juan Carlos later asked her to return the sum of money or make it “available for his use”’, which she declined.

Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, second from right, and her son Prince Alexander, left, at the classic car show in Claverley

She then alleges that he falsely accused her of stealing the cash and defamed her to her family and business partners, as well as to King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, which resulted in a loss of income for her job working as a strategic consultant for “high-net-worth individuals and with leading companies around the world”.

As a result, she is now making a request for damages which are not specifically stipulated in the claim, but are believed to be in the region of tens of millions of euros.

Ms zu Sayn-Wittgenstein is also seeking an injunction that would prevent Juan Carlos and his agents from coming within 150 metres of her home, communicating with her, making defamatory statements about her or tracking and harassing her.

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