The Spanish monarchy’s already fragile reputation is in danger of suffering further damage amid fresh controversy surrounding the former king’s private life.
Well-known Lothario Juan Carlos, who is rumoured to have had hundreds of lovers and vacated the throne three years ago amid allegations of infidelity, has reportedly rekindled a romance with a 68-year-old divorcée former flame.
Juan Carlos, 79, was succeeded on the throne by his helicopter pilot son Felipe, who, alongside his former TV presenter wife Queen Letizia, has tried to detoxify the monarchy’s reputation, reports The Sunday Times.
Juan Carlos (centre) was pictured with his rumoured lover Marta Gaya in Ireland. The pair are said to have had an affair in the 1990s but this is the first time they have been pictured together
Former king Juan Carlos (left) is reported to have rekindled his romance with Marta Gaya (right), a wealthy divorcée who he is said to have had an affair with in the 1990s
They had suffered a succession of bruising scandals, including the corruption trial of Felipe’s sister Cristina that saw husband sentenced to six years in prison for tax fraud and embezzlement.
But the latest controversy to rock the family could undo all of Felipe and Letizia’s good work after Juan Carlos was pictured in public with Marta Gaya, a wealthy divorcée who he is said to have had an affair with in the 1990s.
He is married to former queen Sofia but it is understood the pair have lived separate lives for much of their 55-year marriage.
It has been reported Greek-born Sofia caught Juan Carlos in a clinch with an actress, shortly after he was crowned in 1976.
Spanish King Felipe VI (left) and Queen Letizia (right) have worked hard to detoxify the royals’ brand after a serious of embarrassing incidents
A book released earlier this year alleged the king had had hundreds of lover and one biographer previously revealed Juan Carlos even made a ‘tactile advance’ on Princess Diana in the 1980s.
Retired military chief Amadeo Martinez Ingles says in his book the king’s high-profile romances only ‘represent the tip of a monumental sexual iceberg’ and that between 2005 and 2014, when he had supposedly ‘slowed down’, Juan Carlos had 191 lovers.
But it is his relationship with Gaya that has stirred fresh controversy after the pair were pictured together for the first time in Ireland.
The Spanish monarchy was only restored after the death of General Francisco Franco in 1975 and there remains a powerful Republican force in the country.
It leaves the Royal Family painfully aware of the need to maintain a strong reputation among the public – a reputation that suffers when embarrassing details of the former king’s private life are made public.
The approval rating currently stands at 61%, a big improvement on the low of 31% when Juan Carlos abdicated the throne.