Spain town asks scandal-hit royal to drop duke title

31st January 2013, Comments 0 comments

Authorities Thursday asked Spanish King Juan Carlos's son-in-law, mired in a corruption scandal, to stop using the title Duke of Palma, claiming he has disrespected the town's name, an official said.

Inaki Urdangarin, who is married to the Duchess of Palma, the king's youngest daughter Cristina, is under investigation for embezzlement and tax fraud -- the first major public scandal to hit the king's family.

Fuelling public anger over the case, newspapers last week published an email sent by Urdangarin to a palace official in which he signed off with a sexual play on words based on his Palma title -- untranslatable in English.

The bad press was too much for the local town hall, which is demanding that he stop using the title, a spokesman for the authority, Julio Martinez, told AFP.

"We are requesting that Mr Urdangarin stop using a title which is not actually his," but his wife's, he said.

The action was prompted by "events of recent days... which have revealed unexemplary behaviour and a lack of consideration for the name of our city", Martinez said, though he declined to comment explicitly on the email.

He said the conservative-dominated town council was sure to approve the motion and the town hall has also agreed to rename "Dukes of Palma Avenue", a central artery in the town, to just "Avenue", due to "the same indignation".

Urdangarin has been called to appear at a court in Palma on February 23 to be questioned for a second time by a judge investigating the corruption allegations. He has denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged with a crime.

"We respect the presumption of innocence, it is not about that -- there have simply been some events that have outraged the citizens of Palma," Martinez added.

Juan Carlos, widely respected in Spain for helping guide it to democracy in the 1970s, sidelined Urdangarin from the palace's functions when the scandal came to light in late 2011.

© 2013 AFP

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