Villa Astrida

Many of you will know of the house but didn’t know its name: the holiday villa belonging to the Belgian Royal Family in Motril.

Actually, the question of who it belongs to has caused a scandal in Belgium, because it was supposedly handed over to a trust in 1999 founded to honour the memory of the Belgian King, who died next to its pool from a heart attack in 1993.

Trouble is, much to everybody’s surprise, in the Motril Land Registry, it’s still in Queen Fabiola’s name. Naughty?

So, how did the Belgian royal family come to possess such a property in unlikely Motril? It was in the 60’s that the late King Boudewijn (Balduino) was enjoying a helicopter flight from Granada down to the coast and immediately fell in love with this area, which was then covered in sugar cane. The Queen, by the way is Spanish, born in Madrid to a Spanish noble family.

A building developer that owned the land, who had ideas of building an urbanization (Pueblo del Chirimoyo) on this peninsular of land on which Playa Granada stands, sold a part of it at a very low price to the royal couple as private individuals; i.e., not to the Belgian Monarchy. What better publicity could the developers have for the area? Rumours had it that the Town Hall, under the Mayor of the day, Juan Antonio Escribano, had ceded municipal land, but this is not the case.

Back to the present and in January 2013, Belgian Prime Minister, Elio Di Rupo, criticized Queen Fabiola for her plans to set up a private foundation, which was widely seen by the public as inheritance tax evasion. Meanwhile, here in Spain the far left (IU) wants to know how such building could have been given permission to exist so close to the beach and whether the Motril Town Hall is doing the gardening there free of charge.

The Town Hall denies the latter and the former is not the sharpest of questions, given that we’re talking about a Spain governed, back then (1966), by a military dictator, none other than El Generalisimo Franco: Frankie got to decide what was law and what wasn’t, bless his cotton socks.

Queen Fabiola is knocking on 85 and when she goes then the squabble will begin – if it hasn’t begun already. The Town Hall is already thinking about getting its hands on it and turning it into a sort of museum to reflect that far off ‘golden history.’

(News: Motril, Costa Tropical, Granada, Andalucia – Photo: ©Thomas Blairon)