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/ Source: Reuters

PALMA DE MALLORCA - Spain's Princess Cristina gave testimony before a judge on Saturday in a corruption case that has deepened public anger over graft among the ruling class and discontent with the royal family.

Cristina, the younger daughter of King Juan Carlos, faces preliminary charges of tax fraud and money laundering linked to her use of funds from a shell company she co-owned with her husband Inaki Urdangarin, who is charged with crimes including embezzling 6 million euros of public money.

It is the first time since the monarchy was restored in 1975 after the Francisco Franco dictatorship that a member of the royal family has been summoned in a criminal proceeding.

Spain's Princess Cristina arrives at a court in Palma de Mallorca, Saturday.Ballesteros / EPA

The princess, 48, arrived at the courthouse shortly before 10 am (0900 GMT) to face dozens of questions from the judge in a closed-door hearing in Palma de Mallorca, capital of the Balearic Islands.

Urdangarin, a former Olympic handball player, is accused of using his royal connections to win generous no-bid contracts from the Balearic government to put on sports and marketing events during the boom years before a 2008 property market crash, when local governments were awash with cash.

He and his partners in a consulting firm called the Noos Institute are accused of overcharging, and of charging for services never provided.

The court gave the princess - accused of using Noos Institute proceeds to pay for items such as an expensive remodeling of her Barcelona mansion - special permission to be driven to the courthouse door, citing security reasons.

The decision sparked public outrage because it allowed the princess to dodge hundreds of television cameras and further heated a debate over whether she has been given favorable judicial treatment.

"I'm a monarchist, but if they have done wrong they should return what they stole and be exposed just like the rest of us," said Angel Rodriguez, an 80-year-old pensioner passing by the court.

An opinion poll released last month put the king's popularity at a record low, with almost two thirds of Spaniards wanting him to abdicate and hand the crown to his son.

Both the princess and Urdangarin - who have not represented the Crown at official events since 2011 - have denied wrongdoing.