Spain's Princess Cristina was indicted on tax fraud charges today—a severe setback to efforts by her brother King Felipe VI to rid the royalty of image problems after his scandal-plagued father abdicated six months ago. Cristina is the first royal ordered to stand trial since the monarchy was restored in 1975. Judge Jose Castro has spent four years investigating Cristina's husband on charges ranging from money laundering to fraud. He went against a prosecutor's recommendation earlier this month that the 49-year-old Cristina should face only fines and ordered a trial that could see her get prison time of up to four years if found guilty. Her Olympic handball-medalist-turned-businessman husband, Inaki Urdangarin, faces additional charges punishable by up to 19 years jail time. Castro's decision sets the stage for a royal trial late next year.
Castro set bail for Cristina at $3.3 million. Her lawyer told reporters he would appeal the judge's decisions. "It's a surprise to all of us and especially her," he said. The case involving Cristina centers on allegations that Urdangarin used his Duke of Palma title to embezzle about $7.4 million in public contracts through the Noos Institute, a nonprofit foundation he set up with a business partner. Cristina denied knowledge of her husband's activities. "She is probably going to trial and it will be totally public," says a lawyer specializing in white-collar crime. "This was the worst news she could have received." After his coronation in June, Felipe pledged to restore public trust in the monarchy. He ordered a palace reshuffle, meaning that Cristina and her sister, Princess Elena, are no longer official members of the royal family. (Read more Spain stories.)