Palma.—Over recent months the Spanish media have been probing whether the royal household had any knowledge of the alleged wrongdoing of the Noos Foundation which was presided over by Urdangarin and his former business partner, Diego Torres. There has also been speculations that the King´s youngest daughter, the Infanta Cristina, could also be called to give evidence.

The case has shaken Spain and the monarchy to its foundations but there was little evidence that the people of Majorca were willing to show their feelings yesterday with just a handful of demonstrators gathering outside the courtroom in Via Alemania in Palma. The protesters called for the royal household to be abolished and Spain returned to a republic.

Police had sealed off the the two roads which lead to the back entrance of the main court entrance and just after 9a.m. the Duke, accompanied by his lawyer, arrived to be questioned. There was no special treatment for him and Spanish television reported that he even had to surrender his mobile telephone.

The Noos Foundation organised a series of sporting events for regional governments, the Balearics included, and these are at the heart of the embezzlement allegations.

But Urdangarin, who is also Duke of Palma de Mallorca, denied claims made by Torres last week before the same judge, that the royal household could have been involved. “When the royal household of King Juan Carlos discovered that there was political reproach among the contracted public administrations they gave me the necessary advice to leave an activity which they did not feel was adequate for my institutional status. And that is what I did,” the Duke said.

He also denied that he held any foreign bank accounts. There has been speculation in Spain that money from the sports contracts was “hidden” in various foreign banks.

Urdangarin left the court hearing just after lunchtime telling reporters that he thought that the whole process had gone well.
Questioned
This is the second time in a year that the Duke of Palma has been questioned by a judge over the same allegations.
But while the Duke has continued to stress his innocence the Palma city council has decided to strip him of the street named in his honour in Palma just a stone´s throw away from where he gave evidence yesterday. Until recently the Las Ramblas was called the Ramblas of the Dukes of Palma de Mallorca. The street has now reverted to its former name and there is even talk that the Duke could be stripped of his title.

The royal family has tried to distance itself from Urdangarin. Photos of him have been wiped off the royal website. He has also been banned from royal family events for more than a year.

In Palma, where a number of corruption cases have surfaced, Urdangarin has become a despised figure. “It's a disgrace for our islands that have been so supportive of the royal family,” said Esperanza Ruiz, a resident of Palma, as she shopped in a supermarket near the courthouse.

King Juan Carlos, who took the throne in 1975, was the most popular public figure in Spain in the late 1970s because of his role in supporting the transition to democracy after the long Francisco Franco dictatorship.

But for the first time, politicians have openly called for him to abdicate and hand the throne to his son, Prince Felipe, as his prestige has eroded due to the Urdangarin case, as well as his own missteps. Metroscopia polling firm figures show his approval rating has fallen to 58 percent from much higher levels.

Last year, when Spain seemed on the brink of bankruptcy, the king fell and broke his hip during an elephant hunting safari with wealthy friends in Botswana.

The king, 75, made a surprise public apology for the trip, which had been secret until his accident.