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Episode #3 - Transcript



Episode 3: Envidia – Queen Sofia, Saudi Arabia, and a surprise proposal

MISHEL (00:07):

Previously on Corinna and the King


He actually had a truly appalling childhood and adolescence, and this may very well, I mean, I think it explains a lot.


It was quite amazing that a king who inherited his power in the midst of a dictatorship return it to a country.


Everybody knew you could not touch the king. Everybody knew you could not touch Banco Santander or big corporations.

CORINNA (00:41):

His wish was everyone’s command and people were literally falling over backwards just to please him. If I asked any question, he’d say, “You’re so dramatic. You don’t understand how Spain works.” And no, clearly I didn’t.

MISHEL (00:54):

Bentleys and Rolls Royces, cufflinks and watches. Juan Carlos says the word, and they just appear. Not one or two, Corinna says – wheelbarrows of it, warehouses of it.

CORINNA (01:09):

It was like permanent Christmas. The moment he expressed a wish, 100 came true. There were hundreds of things arriving all of the time. That’s amusing in the beginning. Then the next thing I realized, there was so much of it. It almost kind of amounted to hoarding.

MISHEL (01:27):

Ugh, Corinna has never seen so much stuff in the same place.

CORINNA (01:34):

Say, he liked marmalade. I don’t know how many aristocratic ladies from Sevilla would suddenly start making huge quantities of marmalade, and the next thing you knew, you suddenly have hundreds of jars. So I think people didn’t realize, and they just wanted to outdo one another.

MISHEL (01:53):

Now, Corinna isn’t exactly the thrifty type. She likes her cashmere, her jewels, her hair perfect. But this kind of excess, it’s a turnoff. It’s crass. When she sees all the jamón ibérico, pounds of it, she asks…

CORINNA (02:11):

How many can you eat? Can we vacuum pack some of this? Can we repurpose it? I’m just a much more practical person. So I applied that sense of practicality 

MISHEL (02:22):

She comes up with an idea – something festive to reward the chefs, the butlers, the personnel who work 24/7 for the king.

CORINNA (02:30):

What are you doing about, for example, Christmas presents for your staff or for all of your nephews? He looked at me and he said, “Not really very much.” So I said, “How about we repurpose some of these things?” 


MISHEL (02:43):

They hand out the re-gifted cufflinks and hams together as if they are husband and wife, and there are some very happy members of staff walking out with their designer gear and baskets of food. Only, it’s just one half of the palace that’s feeling good. The other half – Queen Sofia’s side – are clocking out empty handed.  

Envy – it might be the nastiest impulse of human nature, poisoning the minds of jealous husbands and wives for centuries. Corinna knows this all too well.

CORINNA (03:26):

What I realized, and the king always said, that envy, envidia, was the national disease, and that they could be very catty and very nasty in their remarks.

MISHEL (03:37):

It may be a national disease, but envy often provokes one response – vengeance. 

CORINNA (03:45):

Whether that caused jealousy… I think that according to what the king said to me, they wouldn’t normally give out particularly nice gifts, and he thought most certainly his wife didn’t.

MISHEL (03:59):

Like any loved up couple, they lean on each other for advice. And Corinna, always helpful, begins to influence his decisions, not just decisions about the palace, but about Spain itself. Decisions for a country of nearly 45 million are being swayed by the king’s secret lover. In many ways, she has the perfect resume to help on issues of national importance. She knows how to handle diplomats, royalty, businessmen, how to broker deals and keep people happy. 

After all, she’s been helping him from the very beginning – the broken gun, the honeymoon for Felipe, and now looking over classified government briefings.

CORINNA (04:46):

Often he would prefer to watch a Western and go, “Could you read this and tell me what’s going on?” Or “Could you draft me a letter in correct English or French?” And I would suggest things like, why don’t you hire a really bright young Spanish graduate who went to Harvard, for example, and who speaks fluent English. And this was always like, No, no, no, no, no, no, no, because they kind of are always afraid of outsiders coming in. 

MISHEL (05:13):

This kind of work comes so naturally to Corinna that she’s surprised when the king’s associates start asking questions – wondering who she is, who she thinks she is.

CORINNA (05:26):

You have to bear in mind that I’m on very good terms with many heads of state and very senior government ministers and very serious players in the financial markets, in the corporate world, in the artistic and cultural world. So I really brought a lot to the table, and I’ve always done that in my relationships.

MISHEL (05:47):

But Corinna never thinks for a second there’s anything wrong with it.

CORINNA (05:51):

I think if you’re looking at relationships where people are attracted to each other because they actually are equal or feel equal to one another in how they can interact and understand what each of them is doing. So as much as I would seek some advice from the king, he would do the same. It is what I would describe as what a power couple does.

MISHEL (06:14):

Albeit a secret power couple. As Corinna’s role grows, the businessmen and politicians who’ve had his ear for decades… they start feeling their influence slipping. Corinna doesn’t know it yet, but the closer she gets to the king, the more envy she inspires, the more dangerous it becomes. 

I’m Mishel Prada, and this is Corinna and the King, episode three – Envidia.

Corinna is now two years into her secret relationship with Juan Carlos. When they can’t be together in person, they share long, late night phone calls. And then one night, Juan Carlos gets carried away. 

“Come,” he says. “Come see my home, my office, my bedroom, where I store my guns, so you can picture me when we speak on the phone, so you can see where I am right now talking to you.” 

It’s typical behavior for the king, a little bit of showmanship, a little bit of risk, and a lot of romance.

CORINNA (07:30):

It was more about showing me… when I call you at night, this is my bedroom and these are the pictures next to my bed on my bedside table. This is what I keep next to me. And he wanted to show me how many pictures of me and my children were in his room.

MISHEL (07:46):

To Corinna, it feels like trespassing. But as far as invitations go, it’s hard to pass up. By royal palace standards, Zarzuela is extremely modest. Eleven bedrooms, nine bathrooms, all wrapped up in a rectangular three story building under a slate roof. 

But there is one technological extravagance and it’s critical to running the home – a security controlled hallway with an electronic door. It separates Queen Sofia and her staff from his team and his life.

CORINNA (08:22):

He said his wife or any of her staff didn’t have access because apparently they were spying on each other. He had an entirely separate tract inside the palace, and I think he wanted very much for me to see that what he’d been telling me was actually true.

MISHEL (08:40):

Corinna is, after all, one in a long string of the king’s lovers. His extramarital activities are an open secret in Spain. He is known as the ultimate golfo – a skirt chaser. He likes leggy blondes but also petite brunettes. He likes high society women – royals and socialites, and women in sleek business suits. But he also can’t keep his hands off celebrities, from movie stars to show girls. He likes them younger and older, Spanish and foreign. Corinna knows all that. And she has a name for these women.

CORINNA (09:17):

They were these accessory women, just these objects of his fancy and passion.

MISHEL (09:23):

But were they all just accessories? Marta Gayá, sometimes called the gran amor del Juan Carlos, was with him for 20 years.

CORINNA (09:36):

They had full control over her. I think the fact that I’m so international that I didn’t live there, that I was traveling independently around the world, really confused them, puzzled them, made them extremely uncomfortable.

MISHEL (09:51):

There was Barbara Rey, a Spanish actress and television presenter, who allegedly was paid to not say anything about her fling with the king… And then there’s the dark story of Sandra Mozarowsky – an alleged 18 year old mistress of the king, who fell off her balcony and died in an accident in the 70s. She was pregnant. Nobody talks about it, and the silence serves everyone. 

The king and the queen have lived like this for years after all. They sleep in separate beds and live independent lives, separated by that electronic door. What’s another woman?

CORINNA (10:36):

Well, I think they pretended for years, and in my humble opinion, this sort of very thin veneer of apparent harmony was becoming thinner by the month.

MISHEL (10:49):

King Juan Carlos’s invitation to Zarzuela Palace is accepted under the guise of a friendly and exclusive tour with a friend of Corinna’s, a famous orchestra conductor visiting Madrid for a performance. She checks and double checks with Juan Carlos. There’s no chance of running into the queen, right?

CORINNA (11:10):

I’d heard how hostile Queen Sofia could be and how obsessed she seemed to be, somehow with this relationship. So I was quite apprehensive of actually setting foot into the palace, unless there was 100% certainty that wouldn’t be interfering with her presence. It was also out of respect. I would not have wanted to cause a scene.

MISHEL (11:32):

And he assures her, “The queen isn’t home. You’re good. We’ll have the entire palace to ourselves…” Of course, apart from your conductor friend and the 120 or so staff. 

CORINNA (11:45):

So, I accompanied my friend, and we just had a tour of the official rooms downstairs.

MISHEL (11:50):

Corinna, the conductor, and the king are chatting, admiring the Baroque architecture. It happens in a second. The doors fly open.

CORINNA (12:01):

And suddenly Queen Sofia burst into the room, and with a face like thunder.

MISHEL (12:08):

All eyes are on the queen. The queen, however, is only focused on one person. She is seething with anger.

CORINNA (12:17):

She said hello to a guest and then pointed at me and said, “I know who you are.” I obviously wanted to disappear into the ground.

MISHEL (12:29):

And Juan Carlos? He’s like a rabbit caught in headlights.

CORINNA (12:32):

The king seemed completely taken aback and unable to actually cope with this aggression that played out in the full eye of other people. So it was quite unpleasant and it was quite an embarrassing scene.

MISHEL (12:45):

The queen, Corinna sees with glee, is stirring up drama. She’s even a little bit childish.

CORINNA (12:54):

I think people of that age… that’s not very dignified, it’s also not necessary. I think it actually did more for me to feel sorry for them, that she was trying to trip him up and then confront him and make it embarrassing for him. She was probably defending her territory.

MISHEL (13:12):

Hmm… Perhaps Sofia, like Corinna herself, knows what’s different. That this new woman is not just a fling. She’s not an accessory woman. She’s here to stay. 

Corinna never sets foot in the palace again, but that doesn’t mean that she and the queen won’t collide once more. Envidia clouds Queen Sofia’s vision. It freezes her brain. She’s never made a fuss, but now she’s had enough.

We’re back in 1992, during the filming of the British documentary A Year in Spain. Queen Sofia is perched on the edge of a loveseat, squeezed too close to her husband. She has a stiff smile on her face as journalist Selina Scott grills him about the latest controversy – bullfighting. The king leans back, unphased, looking comfortable and confident, his legs crossed.

JUAN CARLOS I (14:19):

I defend the national feast.


You defend?

JUAN CARLOS I (14:23):

I accept she doesn’t like it. We remain like that. 

QUEEN SOFIA (14:26):

Yes, no problem.

MISHEL (14:29):

But Selina is undeterred.


But then, yes, why don’t you like it? A lot of British people agree with your wife, you see, the queen.  

MISHEL (14:35):

Sophia starts to speak to explain herself, a little more emotion in her voice.

QUEEN SOFIA (14:41):

I love animals and so …

MISHEL (14:44):

But Juan Carlos is feeling hot.

JUAN CARLOS I (14:46):

Well, I could ask you about other things that also your country. I think one has to respect traditions in each country, and I think with all honesty and respects to each country.

MISHEL (15:00):

Then suddenly the queen says …

QUEEN SOFIA (15:03):

What about the fox?


Absolutely. Absolutely. But it’s all time here isn’t it?

QUEEN SOFIA (15:08):

It’s also very cruel.

MISHEL (15:11):

Very cruel, Sofia says, Her words ringing long after she has spoken.

The queen may not be business savvy or a great shot like her nemesis, but her dedication to the crown is unmatched. She belongs to the oldest royal dynasty in Europe, the house of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg. Sofia is daughter of a king, sister of a king, wife of a king, and ultimately… mother of a king.

Pilar Eyre, the Spanish journalist and occasional romance author, wrote a book about Sophia called The Solitude of the Queen, which tells you all you need to know.

PILAR EYRE (16:00):

She’s still there. I mean, she hasn’t divorced. She still wears her engagement ruby ring. She’s willing to bear all of these public humiliations, as long as she’s queen.

MISHEL (16:13):

Her ambition is to live and die as queen. She wants the life at Zarzuela Palace, the annual vacations in Majorca, the protocol, her staff… More than anything, she wants to secure the succession of her son, Felipe. So she does the royal engagements, the ribbon cuttings, the medal ceremonies; patronizes all the right charities; keeps less than a handful of friends; avoids scandal and never, ever publicly criticizes the king for his… unruly behavior. Some people in Spain might consider this to be the perfect example of selfless duty, but others not so much.

PILAR EYRE (16:54):

She’s always been, and this is a bad word, but Doña Sofia has always been the national cuck queen.

MISHEL (17:04):

La Cornuda Nacional. The national cuck queen. Imagine the humiliation.

But soon, she sees an opening, a chance to tip the scale in her favor. After all this time, all these indignities, a chance to get her revenge.

It’s 2006. Corinna is packing, preparing her paperwork, her files, her mind for doing business. She has a very important job as girlfriend-slash-de-facto-advisor to the king. She’s about to accompany the king on an official state visit to Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh. As friends go, Spain’s Arab benefactors have been very good to the king, just as they were to Franco. 

In fact, Juan Carlos’s first ever visit to Saudi Arabia, in 1973, was on behalf of his father figure. Plus, there aren’t many other kings for a king to play with, especially a man like King Abdullah, who loves hunting. Here’s biographer Paul Preston:


From the 1980s, particularly the 90s onward, where he began to come much more into contact with the rulers of the Arab states, who were, of course, spectacularly, eye-wateringly rich because of their oil wealth. And they very much treated him as one of them. They had this sense of the importance of being a ruler.

MISHEL (18:41):

This is not just a friendly visit. There are the multibillion dollar infrastructure projects that the Spanish companies are hoping to bid for, all being discussed behind closed doors. And there’s one mega project in particular that the king really wants.

CORINNA (19:00):

The big priority on that visit was a train contract called the Landbridge train contract, and this was with a Spanish leap company called OHL. All focus was really on the expectation that during that state visit, this project would be awarded to the Spanish consortium.

MISHEL (19:22):

As Corinna makes her way to the airport to join the delegation, she’s hit with some disconcerting news. Queen Sofia has decided to tag along. Corinna has broken the cardinal rule of mistresses. You can see my husband in your little shack in the country, but don’t get involved in our country’s business.

CORINNA (19:46):

I think at the last minute she realized that I might be present and decided to go on this trip. She’s never been very keen on traveling to the Middle East, but she was suddenly, at the very last minute, decided to go on this trip.

MISHEL (20:00):

It is awkward. Corinna is traveling on the official Spanish government plane. She walks straight to her seat, past the entrance of the king and queen’s cabin, past the inner circle of the palace, and keeps her head down.

CORINNA (20:17):

I sat in the back, with other people of the delegation, and arrived in Riyadh.

MISHEL (20:26):

They land early in the afternoon, Juan Carlos in a beige suit and a pumpkin-colored tie, Queen Sofia in a black polka dotted jacket and fluttering maxi skirt, her hand on the crook of his left arm, a soft smile on her face. They descend the red-carpeted airstair, past a row of saluting royal guards, where King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia awaits. And where’s Corinna? Far, far towards the back.

It’s obvious the Saudis don’t know what to do about this unmarried European woman.

CORINNA (21:06):

We were in a state guest house. I was housed with the businessmen, as opposed to the women.

MISHEL (21:12):

She isn’t even allowed to order a bottle of Coke for herself.

CORINNA (21:17):

My sort of… colleagues or business people on the trip were joking, saying, “You have to be really nice to us if you want a Coca-Cola, because we have to order it for you.”

MISHEL (21:23):

Meanwhile, Queen Sofia’s off to a packed schedule. She’s visiting the ancient ruins and the National Museum, shaking hands with patients at a new hospital, and the Saudis just adore her.  

CORINNA (21:38):

For me to be put in this bastardized situation, where suddenly you have the queen on the trip, people are looking at you… Some people are deliberately trying to misinterpret this. I was trying to lay as low as possible.

MISHEL (21:53):

Corinna has been shunted aside, and the king? He does nothing. But still, she’s here to do a job. She’s supposed to be shaping some of the biggest deals and winning contracts for Spain. Then…

CORINNA (22:09):

To our great surprise, this train deal was not awarded as expected. And there was huge consternation that somehow that didn’t materialize.

MISHEL (22:19):

To every cloud, a silver lining.

CORINNA (22:23):

What was announced was a 5 billion bilateral investment fund.

MISHEL (22:29):

Later on, Corinna ends up consulting for the fund but it never gets off the ground. She makes some controversial arrangements for the king that will come back to bite both of them. The trip lasts three hellish days for Corinna. And to make matters worse, when it’s time to leave, there’s no room for her on the plane.

CORINNA (22:51):

People are saying, “What the hell is she doing here? And why is she on this plane?” This whole situation just spiraled out of control, and I suddenly realized how incredibly nasty people could be. And it was more about the fact that a woman could hold her own, that she could be taken seriously in a relationship by this revered man, the fact that I was a foreigner… basically this old-fashioned Franco thinking, where women are pretty much worthless.

MISHEL (23:25):

Corinna flies back to London, alone. For the first time in her life, she has no idea what’s about to happen. In the days after, Corinna and the king argue. The king shrugs his shoulders and says the same thing he’s always said, “It’s envidia, mi ángel. You must not let it get to you. It’s the disease – Sofia’s disease.” But it feels like Sofia’s not letting it go. People tell Corinna that she’s spreading rumors all around London that Corinna is a greedy husband-stealer.

CORINNA (24:02):

I think she must have realized how much affection the king had for my children, and so this translated into them being excluded from other children’s birthday parties, me being excluded. I felt clear hostility. And these people were in the same schools. They had their children in the same schools, and that was quite difficult to navigate for me.

MISHEL (24:30):

And so in late 2007, Corinna leaves London for Monaco, the home of the rich, the famous, the dodgy, where she has more friends, or perhaps fewer enemies. Somehow the couple are more in love than ever. 

When Juan Carlos turns 70 the following year, Corinna surprises him with a special birthday present, seven handcrafted elephant sculptures and a candelabra, all made from sterling silver, a perfect gift for the man who has everything and who loves hunting wild animals. They’re commissioned by Corinna especially and cast by the renowned Zimbabwean silversmith Patrick Mavros. He’s a friend, naturally.

CORINNA (25:20):

He was thrilled when he received them, and on every occasion, say Easter or Christmas, I would just add to this collection.

MISHEL (25:27):

The collection will eventually grow to include 70 elephants and 10 candelabras. Each elephant is one of a kind, with a name engraved on its stomach. They mean so much to the king that in his will, he bequeaths them to his stepson, Alexander, he tells Corinna. The elephants are the perfect table centerpiece at the king’s hunting lodge.

CORINNA (25:53):

Of course, you imagine when the king hosts his weekends that he has a lot of guests. So this was essentially made for his weekend entertainment. And they were kept at the Mudela hunting estate, which was the government-owned hunting estate that he used in Spain.

MISHEL (26:13):

Leaders around the world network on the golf course, but for the king of Spain, it’s shooting. So much of Spanish affairs is decided at his hunting parties. In the US, this is called schmoozing. In Spain, it has so many names – trapicheo, chanchulleo, nepotismo, enchufe, dedazo. Dedazo, for example, literally means choosing by finger. You could be the top graduate at the best school, the star employee at your last job, but what really matters is how many bottles of wine you’ve opened together, or in this case, how many hunting parties you’ve been invited to.

CORINNA (26:54):

Unless you were part of his shooting parties, you weren’t really part of the core team of people of the chosen few that did most of their business on shoot weekends. They’re just all sitting there talking about business. Then you realize that a lot of favors are being asked of him. “Could you call this head of state, this president? Could you do this? Could you do that?”

MISHEL (27:17):

That’s the annoying thing about dedazo. It works both ways.

CORINNA (27:22):

Sometimes, he would complain to me going, “Oh, God, these people are relentless. They’re asking me for so many favors.” And really, whenever I asked him, he would just look at me and say, “You just don’t understand how Spain works.”

MISHEL (27:37):

Corinna might feign shock or ignorance… but she isn’t above her own favor trading… While she’s in Madrid, she wants to organize a big international symposium about intellectual property. So she meets with Alberto Saiz, then chief of Spain’s intelligence agency, to discuss it. Corinna and Saiz were acquainted, from a hunting party in 2006. At first it all seems harmless. Her record was spotless. 


I got to learn about some of the projects she had, and there was nothing objectionable. Her business projects were just as legitimate and legal as any other. 

MISHEL (28:20): 

The only hiccup would be Corinna’s friendship with the king. He says they would have to be careful so people don’t get the wrong idea. But Corinna wants Juan Carlos to be the face of her event. 


She wanted the king to preside over the event, and to use the image of the king to benefit the event, which was part of her business, and we didn’t think that was appropriate.

CORINNA (28:48):

That had to do with this anti counterfeit summit. You know, he called it, I was trying to run some sort of crazy summit at the palace, which is obviously all untrue. This was a very serious summit pertaining to counterfeiting.

MISHEL (29:00):

Saiz shuts down her plans. Corinna bristles. She wants to do something, and suddenly there are rules? The event never ends up happening, but it does leave Saiz with lingering doubts about Corinna’s relationship with the king. 


That was no more than a small indication of what that relationship could become. Sort of contaminated, in a way. 

MISHEL (29:27):

Saiz is someone who takes his job seriously. He says it would be immoral not to put it to the king. 

ALBERTO SAIZ  (29:38):

The message I was transmitting was that it’s difficult to understand a relationship between the king and someone who is doing business and wants to get very close to him to leverage his figure for their business…that can be easily misinterpreted from an outside perspective, right? 

CORINNA (29:54):

Saiz realized that a summit like this would draw attention to individuals close to the former king. So he pulled it at the last hour. Hotels had been paid, people had paid their flights… It was catastrophic. There’s this famous story where he said that I confronted him and I was quite tough. And that is absolutely true. I told him exactly what I felt, that they were covering up individuals. And yes, he did ask for a double whiskey after I told him what I thought.

MISHEL (30:23):

Juan Carlos has a forceful way about him that you can’t argue with. Even for someone strong-minded like Corinna. So she doesn’t ask too many questions. But then the king makes up for it. He finds ways to show he’s thinking of her, even on short trips. On a visit to Miami, he picks up a cheesy postcard of the city’s glitzy skyline and sends a special hand-written message to Corinna.

CORINNA (30:48):

“My angel, I’m counting the hours and seconds to see you, to have you in my arms, take care, need you, adore you.” He was writing to me all the time. 


MISHEL (31:06):

It’s over the top…romantic… And then, in January 2009, five years since they first met, the king decides to prove his love for his princess… One night, he leads her into the dining room at the casita for a candle-lit dinner. It’s warm, cozy, his eyes are bright with anticipation. He reaches into his pocket and presents… a ring. 

CORINNA (31:32):

It’s an emerald cut diamond with two triangles, diamonds on the side. Just a very classic engagement ring design.

MISHEL (31:41):

Just a classic ring…  except it’s gigantic… The proposal, however, is not exactly a shock It’s years in the making. Just a couple of months earlier, the king tells Corinna’s father he wants to marry her. He talks about it all the time. 

CORINNA (32:00):

This conversation about I wish I could marry you had started probably in 2005. He always kept telling me, “I would love to marry you tomorrow.” So it’s not like it came as a huge surprise. It just came at a time where the relationship had become very serious. Obviously, in his case, he was still married. So I always took this more really as a sign of how much I meant to him. So it was more symbolic than, I would say, binding.

MISHEL (32:32):

They might not ever have their wedding, but it’s good enough. They’re as good as married. And Corinna starts to wear the ring. Only a ring of this size, you can’t wear it in public…

CORINNA (32:45):

I was very, very discreet in public. This was known to a small number of people in Spain, close friends of the king. So, say, we would have a dinner party over a weekend with his friends, I would wear the ring. He was very proud of it. He showed it to his friends, as you would. All of the friends’ wives wanted to see it. I was just careful not to wear it out in meetings where this could be observed and then lead to rumors swirling around the palace.

MISHEL (33:19):

So in love, so proud of his pretend wife-to-be. All the more surprising how things deteriorate. Corinna is going through a family emergency… 

Her father, Finn Bønning Larsen, is in the hospital for terminal cancer in the final months, maybe even days of his life. She spends most of her time by his bedside. Juan Carlos is supportive, calling him daily, behaving like he was his true son-in-law. But just a few days before her father dies, he turns to her and…

CORINNA (33:57):

He said to me, pained him to tell me as his beloved daughter, something that he would’ve hoped he would never have to tell me, but that he thought I would be deceived in ways that I could never think possible.

MISHEL (34:12):

She doesn’t understand what he means, so she just nods. Corinna attends her father’s funeral and a memorial in Frankfurt. Her grief lives under her skin, but at least she has Juan Carlos to lean on. She goes back to Madrid to find comfort in his embrace.

CORINNA (34:32):

When I arrived in Madrid not long thereafter, in a state of real grief and despair, the king somehow in a conversation mentioned something about me not having been available much during those eight months when my father was in his last stage of cancer, and that he’d been seeing someone else.

MISHEL (34:50):

It all comes out so casually. She’s staring at him, trying to make out what he’s saying. He’s been seeing this woman for three years. Her name is Sol Bacharach, a blonde Spanish businesswoman.

The one thing she’s always asked of him was to be faithful only to her; the most extraordinary of ironies. Her boyfriend, the king of Spain, who’s already married and whose wife has seemingly persuaded the upper class of London to turn their backs on her, has been cheating on her with another mistress.

Corinna returns to Monaco. She can’t get out of bed for weeks. There’s the paralysis of grief, the agony of betrayal, a tornado of envy. But soon it all gives way to anger. She finally understands there’s something almost unhinged about him, his ruthless nature, his childlike impulses.

CORINNA (36:01):

It became clearer and clearer to me over time that he was conducting not just a double life; he was conducting a quintuple life.

MISHEL (36:11):

Juan Carlos could make you feel like you were the only person in the room, the only person he wanted to share his secrets with, the only person in his world. If you were hanging out with Juan Carlos, you were his best friend. If you were doing business deals, you were the only person he wanted to work with. Juan Carlos could be anyone you wanted him to be if it meant he got his way.

To Franco, he was a like-minded successor who would uphold his legacy. To his father, Don Juan, a self-sacrificing son who would continue the mission to restore the monarchy. To all of his beautiful women, he was their most devoted admirer. And to Corinna, Juan Carlos was the love of her life, and she was supposed to be the great love of his, the one that would put an end to a lifetime of flings and trysts and affairs.

CORINNA (37:10):

You’re suddenly at a point where, “What can I actually believe? Has any of this been actually true? Was all of this just a show?” And this is when I became aware of his unbelievable talent. I call it Oscar winning.

MISHEL (37:28):

And let’s not forget, to Spain, Juan Carlos was still king – noble defender of democracy. But how much longer can his performance last? How much longer will the trust of a whole nation go unbroken?

In our next episode of Corinna and the King

CORINNA  (37:52): 

They were clearly settling in for a long evening of merry drinking.

JAVIER AYUSO (37:56): 

I knew from the first minute that, that was going to be a big crisis. 


The trip to Botswana was the beginning of the end of the reign of Juan Carlos the First. 

ANA ROMERO (38:09):

We gave a man absolute power, and that’s very dangerous. And he did it, and it went wrong.

MISHEL (38:20):

Corinna and the King is a production of Project Brazen in partnership with PRX. 

It’s hosted by me, Mishel Prada. Bradley Hope and Tom Wright are executive producers. Sandy Smallens is the executive producer for Audiation. Núria Net and Alex García Amat are executive producers for La Coctelera Music. Mark Lotto and Jimena Marcos are the story editors for the series. Alex García Amat is the sound design supervisor and composer. Mariángel Gonzales is senior producer. Farah Halime Hope is lead scriptwriter. Megan Dean and Soobin Kim are scriptwriters and associate producers. Ana González is a reporter for the project. Ireland Meacham is producer and Selena Seay-Reynolds is production coordinator. Francesca Gilardi Quadrio Curzio is associate producer. Lucy Woods is associate producer and head of research. Daniel Durán is editor for the English and Spanish versions, as well as sound designer. Matt Noble is editor for the English version. Matt Bentley-Viney is recordist. Joan Alonso is assistant editor. Ryan Ho is the creative director for the project. Andrija Klaric is video editor and designer. Laura Gómez is the host of the Spanish version. Translations by Paloma García Cruz. The voice actors are Eva Magaña, Ana Clements, Francine Belanger, Alex Marrero, Luis Alberto Casado, Antonio Soto Patiño and José María del Río. Additional music arranged and performed by José de Lucía with vocals by Adriana López “La Pimienta.” 

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