Spain’s Supreme Court on Wednesday accepted a paternity claim filed by a Belgian woman against Juan Carlos, the father of King Felipe VI.
Ingrid Jeanne Sartiau holds that she is the daughter of the man who helped Spain make the transition to democracy and reigned from 1975 to 2014, when he abdicated in favor of his son.
The same court rejected a similar suit brought by a Spanish man, Albert Solà Jiménez.
The royal house has expressed respect for “the independence” of the courts. A spokesman for La Zarzuela Palace declined to comment any further on the issue.
The suits were originally filed in lower courts in Madrid around two years ago, but they were thrown out because Juan Carlos, as head of state, enjoyed complete legal immunity.
When he passed the throne on to his son in June of last year, Juan Carlos lost that immunity and instead became an “aforado,” a person who can only be tried by the Supreme Court.
This tribunal demanded documents attesting to a romantic relationship between the Spanish royal and the claimants’ mothers. Sartiau’s evidence was accepted, while Solà Jiménez’s was not.
Ingrid Sartiau says her mother had a brief relationship with Juan Carlos that ended in 1966, before his accession to the Spanish throne, and that she was born that same year, after Princess Cristina, but before Prince Felipe, who became king last year.
After learning of the existence of a book about “the king’s illegitimate children,” Sartiau did some online research and contacted Solà Jiménez. An initial compatibility test conducted at Louvain University established a 91 percent likelihood that the two were siblings. However, a later study using a different genetic sample from Solà Jiménez showed that they could not be brother and sister, according to the geneticist who conducted the tests.
Sources at the Supreme Court said Juan Carlos would soon be given a 20-day deadline to answer the claim. A hearing would then be held unless both parties reach an agreement before that. The hearing would likely be held behind closed doors, as is usually the case with paternity cases.
If no out-of-court settlement is reached, the trial will be held before the summer, and the claimant can ask for Juan Carlos to undergo interrogation, the same sources said. Ingrid Sartiau has also asked the Supreme Court to run a DNA test on Juan Carlos.