Friday, April 20, 2012

Corinna and King Juan Carlos: how close?

Today's Bild, a German newspaper that is a cross between the Daily Mail, the New York Post and the National Enquirer, features a story on who is this Princess Corinna, who has captivated a king.

The article was written by a journalist with impeccable sources.  The journalist asks the question: How close is the relationship between the 74-year-old Spanish king and the twice-divorced German-born Corinna Prinzessin zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn?   [My answer: very close!]

She has accompanied the king on official visits.  The first meeting was at a gala dinner held at Schloss Schöckingen, in Baden-Württemberg.  The then newly divorced Corinna sat at the head table, as did the king and other prominent guests.

When the King paid an official visit to Saudi Arabia,  he was accompanied by the woman who he calls his compañera, his companion.

Corinna was born in Frankfurt-am-Main and grew up in Bad-Soden, a leafy Frankfurt suburb.  She is the daughter of Danish-born Finn Bönning Larsen, who ran the European division of the Brazilian airline Varig.

A patron of the arts, Larsen and his wife, Ingrid, "sought the company of influential people."  Their favorite place to spend their vacations was at a VIP resort in Marbella, Spain.

It was in Marbella that "Corinna fell in love with the sweet life," according to a local resident who has known the Larsen family for many years.  "She has always sought the friendship of the rich and famous."

According to Das Bild, Corinna did not attend university.  When she was 27, she married an Englishman, Philip Atkins.  He left her after five years of marriage and one daughter.   The couple were separated, but still married, when she embarked on a relatitionship with billionaire, Gert-Rudolf Flick, an heir to the Mercedes-Benz fortune.  Gert-Rudolf is better known as "Muck" Flick.

Being Mrs. Philip Atkins was not enough for Corinna.  She wanted a title.  She apparently settled on Prince Casimir zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn, 11 years her junior.  They married in a civil ceremony in London, as she still needed an annulment to marry Prince Casimir in a Roman Catholic ceremony.

Casimir is a younger son of the Prince and Princess of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn.  They were not thrilled with their son's choice of a bride.  The family's opposition to the marriage led Casimir closer to Corinna. 

She got her title, but one of Prince Casimir's cousins told Das Bild that Casimir's marriage collapsed within six months. The couple's son, Alexander was born in February 2002 while the couple were living apart.

Corinna's father never approved of her "unconventional lifestyle."  Corinna's mother tries to understand, but has asked her daughter: "is this the only life?"

Corinna has apartments in Switzerland, Monaco and Madrid, a stone's throw from the palace.  She has two failed marriages, two children, and now the world knows her as the King's Mistress.  She is apparently now in Monaco, keeping a low profile.

Until the King broke his hip during a recent hunting trip to Botswana, Corinna was able to rely on the media's discretion about her relationship with Juan Carlos.  She has denied organizing the hunting trip, but she was certainly with the king in Botswana, and accompanied him back to Madrid. 

In Pilar Eyre's recent book, The Loneliness of the Queen,  Corinna was identified as a German Princess.  She now has a face, a name, and a job description. 
 [Eyre's book is in Spanish only.]

This Spanish article shows the cover of Bild.

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