Royal Rumours: Speculation Over Relationship With German Divorcee


BERLIN – While Spaniards fume over King Juan Carlos and his safari faux pas, Germans are intrigued by the Frankfurt-born blonde divorcee who rarely leaves his side.

For the past six years, Corinna Prinzessin zu Sayn-Wittgenstein has accompanied the Spanish king on trips around the world, often as official companion in place of Queen Sofia.

Yesterday Germany’s Bild tabloid insinuated the couple were having an affair and claimed she was the one who booked the king’s now notorious safari trip.

Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein was born and raised near Frankfurt. Her father, Finn Bönning-Larsen, was a leading light in the cultural life of Germany’s financial capital.

Now 47, she married for the first time 20 years ago to a well-off British man; the marriage ended seven years and one daughter later. According to Bild, she was then involved with a Mercedes heir before getting engaged in 2000 to Casimir Prinz zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, from an old Rhineland aristocratic family.

Those in his family concerned she was after his title felt their fears were confirmed when, six months later, the marriage failed.

The couple divorced and Corinna, pregnant with her second child, kept the “princess” in her name: in Germany it is not recognised as an official title.

To date the Spanish media held back in speculating on her relationship to the king. A recent book analysing the Spanish royal couple’s marriage referred to her only as a “German princess”. But anger over the safari debacle has torn away the veil of discretion.

This in turn has electrified royal-obsessed Germans, who have not quite got over the loss of their own monarchy in 1914.

The tabloid press has taken a pragmatic approach: with no royal family of its own, Germany can at least supply another country with a 21st-century Mrs Simpson.