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Episode #5 - Transcript

Fake Christmas


Episode 5: Fake Christmas – Corruption, Spanish spies, and a 65 million euro gift

MISHEL (00:06): 

Previously on Corinna and the King

CORINNA (00:08): 

This was a safari that Eyad Kayali had organized for his close friend. And we were being slotted in, unbeknownst to us

JAVIER AYUSO (00:18): 

It was like shooting Dumbo, no? It was horrible, no?

JUAN CARLOS I (00:22): 

Lo siento mucho, me he equivocado y no volverá a ocurrir. 


If Corinna is complaining to King Juan Carlos that I am investigating her, we are on the right track.

CORINNA (00:35): 

I wake up in the early hours of the morning, and someone’s standing over my bed in my hotel room. And you always think that when that happens, you’ll start screaming. But effectively what happens, you are in such a state of shock that you can’t even make a sound and you almost feel pinned to your bed. And you can’t move, and you can’t breathe. 

MISHEL (01:00): 

It is the middle of the night at the Connaught Hotel – ten days since the world found out about Corinna and the king’s love affair. The shadowy figure at the end of Corinna’s bed says nothing. Seconds pass in total silence. Seconds that feel like an eternity. She sits up, squints through the darkness. Trying to get a better look.

CORINNA (01:27): 

Eventually I managed to articulate something to the effect of “What are you doing here?”

MISHEL (01:33): 

But suddenly, he opens his mouth and says…

CORINNA (01:37): 

“Oh, I’m sorry, I’m here to help you pack.” And then leaves the room. I’m like, what’s happening… 

MISHEL (01:44): 

Corinna immediately reaches for the phone and dials reception. 

CORINNA (01:48): 

No one’s ever come in to help me pack. You would never check out at 3:00 AM. 

MISHEL (01:53): 

The hotel staff insists it was an honest mistake. He really was there to help you pack. It feels like the same people who raided her apartment are now surveilling her. But she shakes it off, she’s probably imagining it. In any case, she can’t just cancel all her business trips and dodge the press – even if they are ripping her to shreds. She takes a deep breath and makes a decision. 

CORINNA (02:21): 

It was really important for me to maintain a keep-calm-and-carry-on attitude in my professional career. And that is what I was aiming to do.

MISHEL (02:32): 

She travels to Brazil as planned… And then one night, in Rio, on a trip up to the statue of Christ the Redeemer, her paranoia kicks in again. Her business associate, Brazilian native Marcelo de Andrade, is driving, but it’s raining heavily. The roads are winding and slippery. She notices the cars first. They’re tailing them, their headlights flash in the rearview mirror. She tells Marcelo to speed up. He hits the pedal, swerving round the sharp bends. The cars are getting closer, faster. They’ve almost run them off the road. 

CORINNA (03:15): 

At some point we lost them, but it’s only because Marcelo is a rally driver, who’s done many off-piste expeditions. We were able to not get ourselves into a really dangerous situation, but certainly that pressure was there.

MISHEL (03:36): 

Shaken up, Corinna rushes back to London. But the eyes are still on her. And on her way back to the Connaught, she receives word from the king – an unsettling message. Someone is going to pay you a visit, he says. 

Her heart races. His name is Félix Sanz Roldán. General Sanz Roldan, the head of the Spanish Secret Service – Spain’s answer to the CIA and MI6 – and among the country’s most powerful men.  

CORINNA (04:10): 

I had no choice in this matter. It wasn’t presented to me as “Would you like” or “Do you accept.” It would be, “This is what’s happening, and it’s coming your way.” 

MISHEL (04:21): 

She panics. She has met General Roldan once before. About a month before the trip to Botswana at a dinner with the king. A grim-faced man who’s sized her up, made her uncomfortable. A man she now believes has engineered all of the surveillance – the break-ins, the spies, the car tail in Brazil. He’s been watching all along.  

She thinks they’ll talk over coffee in the lobby. But the General has other plans. He wants to talk in private, just the two of them… in her hotel room.  

CORINNA (04:57): 

I imagined they wouldn’t have wanted to do it fully in the public domain, but I never expected that he would come to my bedroom.

MISHEL (05:05): 

Corinna and the general sit at a tiny side table by her bed, not much more than a foot between them. Breakfast is being served, but there’s not quite enough room for all the plates. Corinna’s eyes flicker to her suitcase. It’s unpacked and her clothes are scattered everywhere. 

She is edgy, but Sanz Roldan is perfectly calm. He knows something she doesn’t, and things are about to get much worse. Because, out of nowhere, as if it’s nothing, he tells her what he did.

CORINNA (05:42): 

He had leaked the Botswana information 

MISHEL (05:48): 

I’m Mishel Prada, and this is Corinna and the King, episode five – Fake Christmas.

CORINNA (05:57): 

I was actually shocked, but I didn’t know how much shock I was allowed to express or I should express. You’re trying to look somewhat composed even when your heart is racing and your pulse is at some sort of crazy level, but you’re trying to somehow seem like you’re just calm and listening.

MISHEL (06:17): 

The man that is responsible for her living nightmare has a subtle smile on his face as he speaks. 

CORINNA (06:24): 

And he was then trying to convince me why that was such a great thing for me to be revealed as a serious interest of Juan Carlos. And I should feel very honored. 

MISHEL (06:35): 

Corinna flinches. Consider it an honor? To be revealed as the king’s mistress? But Sanz Roldan seems to take no notice of her, and what he says next is extraordinary. 

CORINNA (06:49): 

He asked me, or commanded me rather. He said, “You need to keep the king motivated to stay in his job.” And I could see why he was saying that because the king was very weakened by the latest medical intervention. And he was ready to throw in the towel.

MISHEL (07:05): 

She can’t believe what she’s hearing. She, the king’s ex, is being made responsible for keeping him on the throne. 

CORINNA (07:14): 

I think they knew it, that he was kind of ready to say, “Enough, I’m done.” So the fact that the head of this secret service would ask me to keep his head of state motivated to stay in his job meant that they could clearly not motivate him to stay in his job. What does that say about the state of affairs in the royal family, in the royal palace, inside the government, and with regards to the secret service? 

MISHEL (07:40): 

Since the trip to Botswana, the royals have never had it so bad. Many people are falling out of love with their king. But there is another fracture. One that runs deep into the bowels of the house of Bourbon. A rot that is spreading into the deep state, and it’s playing on the mind of Sanz Roldan and the king who might just quit, because soon everyone’s going to know exactly how corrupt the Spanish Royal family really is.  

The fate of the Spanish crown depends on Corinna… except, of course, this is not a request. It’s a threat. 

CORINNA (08:28): 

The message was, “This is what you have to do.” And the other very clear instruction was, “You are not to talk to the media under any circumstances.” So in other words, “We write your script no matter what that is, You just have to take whatever lies we put out there. And he said, “Unless you basically comply with these instructions, I cannot guarantee your personal, physical safety or the physical safety of your children.” 

MISHEL (08:54): 

After Sanz Roldan leaves, Corinna’s head is spinning. She throws her stuff in a suitcase. His words echoing long after he’s left. But who would believe her? And indeed, in comments later, Sanz Roldan denied threatening Corinna in any way.

CORINNA (09:12): 

It’s like, Spain, “Oh, it’s such a nice country, you go on holiday there, we have some tapas, it’s so fun.” It’s almost more dangerous because people are completely unaware. 

MISHEL (09:22): 

It’s the first time she sees the man behind it all, the head of the monster – Juan Carlos

CORINNA (09:29): 

I would describe it as a banana kingdom, not a banana republic, because it’s actually not a republic. It’s a kingdom. And Juan Carlos created this banana kingdom out of the existing constitution. And he tweaked it to basically give him inviolability, which means he’s not even touchable by the law. So if he tomorrow killed his gardener in a rage, the law would not be able to hold him responsible. 

MISHEL (09:56): 

Corinna asks her driver to take the long route round to the airport. She’s looking over her shoulder every few seconds. She can’t sleep on the plane to Switzerland. It’s only when she’s back in her apartment that she can breathe a sigh of relief. 

She takes off her shoes, puts her keys down, takes in the familiar scent of her home. But something is off. Her smile vanishes. Her heart begins to race again. Someone’s been here. She remembers how she left the apartment. Papers she’d filed neatly are now spread across the dining table. Her living room has been rearranged. It’s almost like they want her to know. 

There’s something on the coffee table – a book. Slowly, she approaches. And when she sees the cover, she has to catch her breath. It’s a picture of Princess Diana. 

CORINNA (10:54): 

It was the book that accused the British secret services of having caused her death. It was a book about the conspiracy of her death. 

MISHEL (11:03): 

And the reality of what she sees as General Sanz Roldan’s threat hits her. 

CORINNA (11:09): 

It no longer surprises you that they have access to your personal homes, to your private homes or hotels or different jurisdictions. It’s just… oh wow, they’ve already been here too.

MISHEL (11:21): 

As night falls, she checks all the doors and windows are locked. She is pacing, paranoid, unable to rest, when suddenly her phone buzzes. 

She doesn’t recognize the voice on the other end of the line speaking Spanish. 

“Hay muchos túneles entre Mónaco y Niza.

“There are many tunnels between Monaco and Nice,” he says.  

CORINNA (11:45): 

The message I received is, “If you don’t obey these instructions, physical safety means you could die in a tunnel like princess Diana.” I felt like I’d been run over by a hundred buses, trains. I was a wreck by that time. 

MISHEL (12:01): 

That’s the thing about Corinna. When you get close to her, ask her about her darkest moments, it’s easy to think that you’ve cracked her open. She’ll tell you about how many days she spent crying. how deathly afraid she was, how much distress she was in. 

CORINNA (12:23): 

I was bordering on depressed, hopeless. You feel so isolated. It destroys any shred of hope that you have to ever find normality, peace, or a happy life again.

MISHEL (12:40): 

It almost feels like you’re hearing the truth… Glimpsing her inner life. But Corinna, who is so poised and polite, flashing her row of perfect white teeth, is not revealing everything.

ANA ROMERO (12:58): 

People in this story are always playing with hidden cards. What you see is not what is happening. What you hear is not 100% true. 

MISHEL (13:09): 

Something that Ana Romero, the royal correspondent at El Mundo learns a little too late.

ANA ROMERO (13:15): 

I didn’t know then, which is something that has happened a lot during the years, is that she doesn’t always tell the complete truth. It’s not that she lies, but she doesn’t say the whole truth.  

MISHEL (13:28): 

Especially when it comes to… cash

ANA ROMERO (13:31): 

Nobody knew that he had given her that money in 2012

MISHEL (13:38): In the summer of 2012, two months after Corinna is back from Botswana. A secret deal is brokered, one that is not revealed for another eight years. 

It starts with a fateful phone call from the king’s lawyer. His name is Dante Canonica. He’s a well-known partner at a Swiss law firm and he’s responsible for managing the finances of the king. Canonica asks if they can talk in person. He speaks of… a gift. Sounds intriguing. She flies to Switzerland and Canonica starts out vaguely… talk of an inheritance for Corinna and her son. Nothing surprising. He’s talked of a will more and more as he gets older and his health declines.  

CORINNA (14:24): 

And so he started talking about what would happen if he died.

MISHEL (14:29): 

The will isn’t important to her. She says. Even when they were together, she’d sometimes pick up the check. She’s built her own company from nothing, and as a single mother for years no less. She certainly is no gold digger

CORINNA (14:42): 

First of all, I never dated him with any expectation of receiving any financial compensation and he didn’t pay for our expenditures. I was very successful in my own right and this was never part of our relationship.

MISHEL (14:59): 

But the king has a reputation with the women he’s courted over the years. The longer he’s with them, the more generous he is. 

CORINNA (15:06): 

And so he calculated in his mind that Alexander and I should receive an equivalent or an amount that would not be inferior, or far inferior, to what the other women received. 

MISHEL (15:18): 

It’s almost like a divorce settlement. A settlement of 65 million euros. Sixty-five million that she kept under wraps. The “donation” – as Canonica calls it – is transferred from a secret account in Switzerland, owned by a Panama foundation, that can’t be traced back to the king.  

The money is tempting. But Corinna is one step ahead. She wants to know the details – What’s the catch? 

CORINNA (15:49): 

So Dante showed me the donation document and it was very, very structured. It was just like, “What are they doing now?” So I was asking him, ” So where does this money come from? Are there any expectations? Are there any conditions?” Dante said, “No, no, no. This has been in the making for a long time. It’s very unfair what happened to you and he’s aware of that. And he feels very badly about all of this. But this is not some sort of payment to keep you quiet. 

MISHEL (16:20): 

The king’s lawyer reassures her that the contracts and agreements are all signed…and by the king himself. This is just a gift. A 65 million-euro gift. No strings attached. 

But she’s still funny about it. Men like Juan Carlos don’t usually throw money out for no reason. So she gets on the next flight to Spain and insists on meeting the king to ask him a single question. Are you looking for something in return? 

CORINNA (16:52): 

And he said, “None at all.” He was literally like, “I’m so sorry for what you’ve had to go through. It’s horrible.” He realized that my reputation was also destroyed forever and that probably my business was destroyed to a certain degree. 

MISHEL (17:08): 

With her mathematical mind, Corinna tallies up the disruption Juan Carlos has caused in her life, down to the I’ll-kill-you-like-Princess-Diana death threats. And she thinks, maybe a 65-million euro gift isn’t so outrageous an apology. Even if the king thinks she’s just holding money for him. Money he can’t take direct control of without revealing it to the tax authorities and Spanish public. The legal wording is clear. There’s no quid pro quo.

Her final verdict? 

CORINNA (17:42): 

I accepted the donation. 

MISHEL (17:45): 

It’s a detail that comes back to haunt her… because for all her due diligence, dotting her i’s and crossing her t’s, there’s a price to pay for accepting a gift of that size. Because someone needs to take the fall. 

CORINNA (18:01): 

I suddenly realized, “Oh my God, I got framed for this whole Botswana trip and now I’m being framed for something I have strictly nothing to do with.” And I couldn’t quite understand how this was happening, because I couldn’t understand the involvement of the Secret Service at the time. 

TV Presenter (18:20): 

The Spanish court has formally charged Princess Cristina and her husband as part of a corruption investigation…   

MISHEL (18:28): 

Juan Carlos’s son-in-law, Iñaki Urdangarin, a one-time Olympic handball player, has just been accused of money laundering and tax fraud. Later, the king’s own daughter, Cristina, would be implicated in the crime and become the first royal in the family’s history to be taken to court since the monarchy was restored in 1975. 

It’s another blow for the Royal Household who seem to live by one set of rules, while the rest of Spain have to cope with the effects of a crippling debt crisis. When Iñaki turns up for court, he has to walk past hundreds of angry protesters who carry banners reading, “Juan Carlos, if you knew, why did you keep quiet?” There are a few options on the table – follow the rule of law. In fact, Juan Carlos himself seemed to renounce corruption in his annual Christmas speech. The king sits straight, unflinching, and says… 

JUAN CARLOS I (19:30): 

La justicia es igual para todos.

MISHEL (19:33): 

 “Justice is the same for everyone.” Except… that’s not quite true. 

CORINNA (19:41): 

I was literally hyperventilating.

MISHEL (19:43): 

Corinna is named in the criminal investigation. Inaki’s business partner, Diego Torres, dug up all her emails. Where all she was doing was trying to help, always so helpful.. And they send every last one to the presiding judge.  

CORINNA (20:02): 

Diego Torres had published a cut and paste sequence of email exchanges, trying to create the impression that I had some financial arrangement with Iñaki Urdangarin or that I was somehow masterminding the Nóos Institute. 

MISHEL (20:19): 

They expect her to fall in line, be quiet. Take the hit for the king. Be the perfect fall woman. It’s honorable. 

But Corinna panics. She sends the king a text saying, “I need to speak to you urgently.” As usual, the king’s response is casual and indifferent. 

CORINNA (20:39): 

His initial reaction was, “Oh, this terrible Diego Torres” and “Pay no attention. This is all going to go away. They’re being questioned by the judge, and they will clarify your non involvement.” 

MISHEL (20:50): 

But it doesn’t all go away. The people who are supposed to clear Corinna’s name testify, but not in the way she expects. 

CORINNA (21:00): 

Not only did they not clarify this matter, they created more doubts in the mind of Judge Castro as to whether I could be involved or not, because he asked them directly, what about Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein? And the answer was, “Oh, well, we don’t really know what she’s doing,” And it sounded very mysterious.

MISHEL (21:18): 

Corinna’s had enough. No more keeping quiet. No more threats. She won’t be a scapegoat. 

CORINNA (21:26): 

Who’s going to take the rap for a criminal investigation when you have done nothing? It’s like a murder happened here, but you weren’t there. You have no motive, no murder weapon. 

MISHEL (21:35): 

And she unexpectedly changes her strategy. 

When journalist Ana Romero gets in touch again with Corinna, they find a date and meet in Monaco for a tell-all interview. And Romero seems to be on her side. She portrays Corinna in her articles as a woman of beauty and intelligence, humor and kindness, who, most importantly, has nothing to do with the Nóos Scandal. 

MISHEL (22:36): 

It’s the first time Corinna has spoken to the press, which Roldan has expressly forbidden her from doing. 

ANA ROMERO (22:10): 

I joke about it and I say, I put a long red carpet on the floor for her to walk because my editor thought it was such a fantastic story to get a king’s lover to talk on the record to a newspaper. It was too good to be true. She never told us that she had $65 million sitting in her bank account. That’s an extremely important detail, I think.

MISHEL (22:36): 

Before El Mundo goes to print, Corinna gives the Royal Palace a chance to comment.  

CORINNA (22:42): 

I said to Ana Romero, “I will not green light the publication without giving them this last chance to clarify.” And she was laughing at me. She said, They’re never going to clarify. That’s the whole purpose, is to frame you.” 

MISHEL (22:54): 

Her worst fear confirmed. 

CORINNA (22:58): 

She revealed to me that there was a plan inside the Zarzuela to use me as a scapegoat, that the strategy was, in order to release Infanta Cristina from any suspicions, to run the story “It’s Iñaki and Corinna, instead of Iñaki and Cristina.” 

MISHEL (23:20): 

It’s a plan that has been in motion for months and it’s bigger than anything she imagined. Immediately after the El Mundo interview, there’s a flurry of savage articles about Corinna sweeping Spain once again. Retaliation – don’t mess with the King. 

CORINNA (23:38): 

All of them falsely accusing me of having brokered deals I had absolutely nothing to do with. 

MISHEL (23:46): 

The real-life consequences of a year-long media hunt and now a very public criminal investigation are hitting her. Compliance departments are calling, her bank accounts are getting scrutinized, and her clients don’t want anything to do with her. Her business could fail. 

CORINNA (24:03): 

Not only was I under daily attack and falsely accused, people started to call up and say, ” Did you do this? Did you do that?” And people assume that when they’re reading 10 different things, five must be true. People assume that if so many people are saying it, some of this must be true.

MISHEL (24:22): 

To the man in the shadows, General Sanz Roldan, Corinna is an enigma. She should be disposable. She doesn’t speak great Spanish, she doesn’t understand Spain. She’s just another blonde that the king’s fallen for. Yet, the king is besotted with her. Madly in love. And everyone knows it. 

PILAR EYRE (24:49): 

The king was crazy about her. He was completely in love with her. It’s not that I suspect this. I know it for a fact because people who have been with them have told me. It wasn’t that he was in love with her – he was obsessed. 

MISHEL (25:03): 

Pilar Eyre, veteran journalist, speaks of an obsession that goes so far that years after they’ve separated, after his affair and the distance between them, his whole mood is still determined by her. 

PILAR EYRE (25:19): 

She had all of the attributes to turn into the great love of his life. Firstly, she’s spectacularly beautiful. I saw her here in Barcelona, and she immediately draws attention. If there’s a group of women, she’s the most beautiful of them all, she’s tall, blonde, she moves with a lot of freedom, has a very youthful way of acting. She’s fun, intelligent, had great contacts and an important agenda. And Don Juan Carlos is drawn to all of these things. She’s not the typical trophy partner that he’s always had.  

MISHEL (25:53): 

Sanz Roldan needs Corinna. The king needs Corinna. Spain and the monarchy need Corinna. 

CORINNA (26:02): 

I almost felt like this little pawn that’s being moved around on this chess board by multiple players and was like, “You need to call him back. You need to make him feel good. We’re going to blame you for something else. You can’t talk to the media.”

MISHEL (26:15): 

Corinna sees right through Juan Carlos now. He’s just a people-pleaser. Depressed that he’s lost Corinna and that his popularity is plummeting in Spain. It is the end of the court of miracles. 

Queen Sofia has practically moved into the Claridge’s Hotel in London, far from her philandering husband, only flying into Spain for official events. And it’s not just Sofia that’s had enough. There’s signs of a family battle taking place, one that involves a full-blown operation to end the reign of King Juan Carlos and put his son on the throne. 

CORINNA (26:55): 

The relationships in the family had deteriorated to such a degree that he said he couldn’t bear the thought of spending Christmas with his family, and he was dreading to go home. 

MISHEL (27:08): 

Corinna must keep the king happy, whether she likes it or not. Answering his calls, answering to the secret service, humoring his every whim. Even pretending it’s Christmas day because he says so. Which is exactly what he demands. 

Christmas at Philip Adkins’ house in the country. With everyone, including Corinna and her children. 

CORINNA (27:33): 

And so now I feel that the king is surrounded by these drooling sycophants and I am looking at this and I’m thinking, “This is completely insane. We are just part of some sort of circus performance to keep this powerful man happy and whatever he articulates as a wish must come true.”

MISHEL (27:50): 

Philip doesn’t seem to see the issue… “It’s just such a small favor, it’s the least that we can do.” Classic Philip. He’ll say whatever he has to say to hang out with the king.

CORINNA (28:02): 

So in the end, what does someone as powerful as King Juan Carlos do? He does two pretend Christmases. One is the pretend Happy Christmas with the people he likes and then comes the pretend real Christmas with the people he can no longer stand. 

MISHEL (28:17): 

On December 22nd, Corinna and her children, Philip, and Juan Carlos all sit around a Christmas tree for a performance of fake Christmas. 

CORINNA (28:31): 

The kids have to be there. The Christmas trees. The gifts under the Christmas tree. Everyone’s sitting, having the glass of champagne dressed like you would be for Christmas Eve, pretending it’s Christmas. Only, it’s not Christmas. We’re having to cook the exact same food you cook on Christmas Eve. So we’re basically creating Christmas on a date that’s suitable for King Juan Carlos.

MISHEL (28:55): 

Turkey, stuffing. gravy, red wine to keep King Juan Carlos happy, to keep Spain together. Because the other option is…. what?

CORINNA (29:09): 

I thought it was totally surreal. I was standing there going, “Does anybody realize how insane this is? Do people not understand there’s something really, really wrong happening in this person’s mind and the people who were facilitating that?”

MISHEL (29:25): 

The king, on the other hand, is having a great time. He’s happy and friendly – weirdly friendly. He’s acting like they’re dating again. Smiling at Corinna the way he did years ago, pretending as though their relationship never ended, that the secret service isn’t surveilling her that she wasn’t framed for his family’s corruption. He’s so pleased with his fake Christmas that he wants to see Corinna again, this time for his birthday in January, at her place.  

CORINNA (30:01): 

Again, a lot of pressure came down on me and I said, “Fine.” 

MISHEL (30:06): 

Corinna is tense throughout dinner. She doesn’t want him getting too drunk. The next day is an important one – Pascua Militar, Military Easter – the king has to award medals to military officers and give a speech. She doesn’t want to get in trouble again, so she sends him back to Madrid, before it gets too dark. 

CORINNA (30:28): 

He did not have too much to drink, so he seemed in good shape. He seemed actually unusually cheerful.

MISHEL (30:35): 

The last thing she hears from him is a thank you for the lovely birthday lunch.

The king, dressed in military uniform, enters the Throne Room of the Royal Palace, with Queen Sofia by his side. It’s a show of unity and strength, a magnificent room, with port-red walls and golden lions and baroque velvet armchairs. A massive, celestial painting by the Italian artist Giovanni Battista Tiepolo stretches across the ceiling. 

Juan Carlos stands at the lectern. And as he begins his speech. he reads word after word, page after page, speaking slowly and barely looking up. He is grinding through it until halfway through, he seems out of breath. His voice is frail, and he’s fumbling over his words. 

It almost seems like he is going to pass out. The military officers in the room are exchanging looks. Some are panicked. Is he okay? Others are annoyed. Who is this sputtering old man? Is he having an end-of-life crisis?  This is a live televised address. Everyone is watching, including Corinna. 

CORINNA (32:03): 

He was literally slurring and I couldn’t recognize the person I’d spoken to the day before.

MISHEL (32:09): 

She can feel it coming. The incident unleashes another punishing round of articles against her. 

CORINNA (32:17): 

Of course, I was again, immediately blamed for this disaster. The Spanish articles coming out were saying that he had a massive argument with me on his birthday and that I traumatized him so much that he messed up his speech.

MISHEL (32:31): 

But the king? He’s free as a bird. For now. He’s on a tour of the Middle East, seeing his favorite buddies in the oil-rich Gulf states. Perhaps his optimism is misplaced. Perhaps it’s the blinding light of his love for Corinna, who he’s following, who he can’t seem to get out of his head.  

But in the spring of 2014, Juan Carlos starts to visit London regularly back to Corinna.  

CORINNA (33:03): 

I was a little disconcerted about that because I was thinking to myself, “Gosh, I hope he’s not going to move here. And then I’m going to be dealing with this problem on a permanent basis.” 

MISHEL (33:13): 

And one day, her fears become reality. Juan Carlos tells her he is looking for an apartment in London – right in her neighborhood. And he tells her he’s not paying for it himself. His good friend the Sultan Qaboos of Oman is. 

CORINNA (33:32): 

Juan Carlos has always asked wealthy monarchs, particularly in the Middle East, for help. King Hussein of Jordan gave him a villa in Spain. The Saudi royal family gave him his yacht. So he has throughout his reign, over 40 or nearly 50 years, always depended on the generosity of other people. And other monarchs always thought of him as someone with less money, but a lot of clout, and he was always very good at giving them a platform, and in exchange, they gave him all the toys that he asked for.

MISHEL (34:06): 

The king gets to pick out an apartment – a handsome 5-story regency-style building across from the Omani embassy in Belgravia. It is estimated to be worth 50 million pounds.

He has some interesting ideas for decor.  

CORINNA (34:43): 

King Juan Carlos came to me and he said, “I want it to look like your London flat. I want the same interior designers, and I want it to look like your home.” At that point, I was becoming mildly concerned about the level of obsession that was reaching. 

MISHEL (34:43): 

He wants the same couches, the same window blinds, the same marble floors, everything customized to look exactly like Corinna’s. The level of obsession – it sends chills down her spine. But the plans are being made, and she sees… 

CORINNA (35:04): 

“Oh, thank God. He’s creating himself a bachelor pad.” This is just for him.” It was basically customized to a bachelor head of state with a large security contingent. 

MISHEL (35:17): 

But there’s no relief. He’s calling her all the time, needing to hear her voice. He has these architectural plans of El Pardo Palace he wants her to look at. The Royal Palace of El Pardo used to be a hunting lodge, but now it’s something of a hotel for foreign dignitaries visiting Spain. 

CORINNA (35:37): 

And he said that he was going to have the use of this large apartment in the Pardo palace and that we would live there and he wanted me to start redecorating it. 

MISHEL (35:48): 

Is this a joke? Corinna treated it like one. 

CORINNA (35:55): 

I remember using humor as a defense, because I didn’t want to be insulting. But I was saying things like, “Well, yes. And then we can all go to the Zarzuela palace and have a happy Christmas together because they’ll be thrilled having me as a neighbor.” 

MISHEL (36:09): 

But in the back of her mind, Corinna knows something is not right. What is he really up to? 

CORINNA (36:17):

There was suddenly a consolidated effort to convince me to come back. That was very uncomfortable, because I had no intention of going back.

MISHEL (36:27): 

Corinna is getting inundated with calls, Juan Carlos’s friends are mobilizing, directing every effort at the woman that has the king’s heart in her hand. But the more they try, the more resistant she becomes. And it drives Juan Carlos crazy. 

CORINNA (36:45): 

You could see he was suffering and he was not in a good place. And it was almost, I felt like I was his last lifeline. 

MISHEL (36:53): 

It wasn’t enough to buy an apartment close to her – or offer her a spot in the palace or give the 65 million dollars. He makes one last big effort. The thing any princess would want from her king. A promise. 

CORINNA (37:13):  

I remember going, “Oh my God, this is awkward.” And I said to him, “Have you recently converted to Islam? Because unless you have, you can’t ask me to marry you because you are already married.”


MISHEL (37:30): 

In our next episode of Corinna and the King

CNN Presenter (37:32): 

Spain’s King Juan Carlos has abdicated after nearly 40 years on the throne. 

CORINNA (37:38):

The entire operation was about hiding the true state of his wealth from the Spanish Treasury and from the Spanish people. 

PILAR EYRE (37:48): 

He’s a wonderful strategist. So how is it possible that they blame Corinna? It’s absolutely his fault. 

CORINNA (37:56): 

I think he wanted to punish me for not coming back.

MISHEL (38:05):

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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