Elephant-Gate And a German Mistress, Can Felipe And Letizia Save King Juan Carlos Monarchy?

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By Christine Jane Caparras | June 5, 2014 3:17 PM EST

King Juan Carlos of Spain has found himself in hot water after announcing his abdication. While most of the world will only be hearing about the abdication and subsequent rise to the throne of his son, The Crown Prince Felipe and his beautiful wife, Princess Letizia, a growing interest in the family's history and a deeper look into recent events might not be so good for the exiting monarch.

REUTERS
Spain's Princess Letizia and her husband Spain's Crown Prince Felipe wait for Japan's Crown Prince Naruhito before a gala dinner at the Royal Palace in Madrid in this June 12, 2013 file photo. Spain's King Juan Carlos is abdicating after almost 40 years on the throne and his son Prince Felipe will succeed him, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said on June 2, 2014 in a surprise announcement.

The powerful and respected leaders of the world's most powerful nations are always under scrutiny. Politics has been so sensationalized that world leaders need to fend off paparazzi as much as Kim Kardashian.  

JFK comes to mind with his dalliance with Hollywood starlet Marilyn Monroe. U.S. Pres. Bill Clinton is still being haunted by the ghosts of his time with Monica Lewinsky. Former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi has made a worldwide benchmark on how to hold a barbecue party, among others, have been feasted upon in the news.

Royalty is an even bigger cash cow for media sensationalism as it's a heady mix of power, glamor and wealth. Who would forget the untimely death of Princess Diana, who was attributed to a chase with paparazzi? The whole Camilla and Prince Charles romance and Prince Harry's antics have been on worldwide tabloids for years.

The Spanish Royal Family has not been exploited as much in international media but that doesn't mean they don't have dirty laundry. When the Spanish monarchy was restored after the death of General Franco in 1975, the new King Juan Carlos was the face of change. In 1981, he stopped a military coup and restored democracy to his country and gained the admiration of his countrymen and the world.

Things went quiet for a long time after that and news of his abdication brought forward a string of controversies. A 2012 news report showed a photo of the King posing with a dead elephant. He was reportedly seen in that expedition with a blonde woman who was not the queen.  The King had injured himself in the elephant hunting expedition in Botswana and the photo was leaked on the wake of his return to the country for treatment.  Elephant-hunting in this day and age when hunting for sport of endangered creatures no less is frowned upon worldwide.

German Artistocrat Corinna zu Sayn Wittgenstein has long been rumored to be the king's mistress. Animal cruelty, mistresses are the elements of a strongman's downfall. Also, embezzlement charges against his daughter, the Infanta Cristina and her husband, Inaki Urdangari, was the final blow that drove in the nail.

Perhaps the abdication will take the heat off his back. So far, all it has done is zoom in on what has caused his downfall. Spaniards are calling for the abolition of the monarchy in protests in the capital.

Separatist protests have started in Catalunya where pro-independence activism has been revived. The king is abdicating in favor of the new generation, which he feels will lead Spain into the future. His son Felipe has been fairly popular and his wife, the Princess Letizia, even more so.

Can they dig the Spanish monarchy out of the ditch? It all remains to be seen. 

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(Photo: REUTERS / Andres Kudacki)
Spain's Princess Letizia and her husband Spain's Crown Prince Felipe wait for Japan's Crown Prince Naruhito before a gala dinner at the Royal Palace in Madrid in this June 12, 2013 file photo. Spain's King Juan Carlos is abdicating after almost 40 years on the throne and his son Prince Felipe will succeed him, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said on June 2, 2014 in a surprise announcement.
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