Alfonso XIII: Playboy King and Porno Pioneer

Spain’s first pornos

As with the internet, it didn’t take long for pioneers to see the pornographic possibilities of film with early pornos appearing pretty quickly after the Lumiere brothers first displayed their invention in Paris in 1895. However, unlike the internet, this was no democratic tool, the first silent pornos were mainly made to titillate private individuals who had the means to pay to see their fantasies acted out onscreen. And patrons didn’t come more wealthy than the king of Spain himself!

In 1915, Alfonso XIII gave part of his enormous fortune away to found Royal Films, a Barcelona-based production company run by brothers Ramón y Ricardo de Baños. Royal Films produced porn films for the exclusive pleasure of the playboy king. Using the Count of Romanones as a go-between, the kinky King Alfonso XIII commissioned over 70 silent porno films to screen in front of private audiences in his palaces. Sometimes such spectacles would literally go off with a bang as during the summer they would be accompanied by fireworks displays! While there’s no paper trail, according to El País, it’s thought the king had considerable creative input and may even have auditioned actresses.

Alfonso XIII behind the camera

The Catholic tastes of a playboy king

The tastes of the playboy king were decidedly Catholic in the sense that among various scenarios, he enjoyed titillating scenes involving the church. In El Confesor, for instance, a cheeky priest takes the confession of a young woman and bids her to “Continue thy evil doings!” before undressing her and feeling up her ample breasts. While no trace should have remained of his private movie collection, this film along with two others – Consultorio de Señoras and El Ministro – were discovered in a Valencian convent, before being restored by Valencia’s Filmoteca in 1991.

Porno pioneer and phillandering cad

Though no mention is made of his massive porno collection in the Palacio Real, if you visit Madrid’s palace, the royal projector he used is on display for all the world to see. You can also see his faux Chinese smoking room and numerous portraits of the roguish monarch often beside his long-suffering wife, Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg – who, incidentally, was Queen Victoria’s granddaughter. The king was famously unfaithful and none too discreet, which is perhaps why he’s widely known for being one of the world’s first porno patrons!

Unsurprisingly, Victoria Eugenie was not particularly fond of her husband and the feeling was mutual as she, like many British royals had the haemophilia gene, which she passed onto their firstborn son and heir to the throne. When little Alfonso was circumcised, he didn’t stop bleeding. It’s said this incident soured their marriage considerably.

Alfonso XIII, a philandering cad if ever I saw one!

A moustache-twirling cad par excellence, Alfonso had at least five lovers many of whom were actresses, the most famous of whom was Carmen Ruiz Moragas. He had two children with her outside wedlock and three other illegitimate children besides. Well-known for visiting brothels in Madrid and Barcelona, it’s pretty safe to assume he would have had no compunctions about getting busy with the actresses in his films, who were almost certainly all prostitutes.

Alfonso XIII’s mistress, Carmen Ruiz Moragas

Not syphilis but the Spanish flu

While Alfonso XIII probably deserved to have caught syphilis, which was rife at the time, he is most famous for catching the Spanish flu: the inaccurately named pandemic of 1918/1919. The virus had already raged through the US before it spread to Spain but wartime censorship during WWI meant people first became aware of it when it hit Spain and laid the king low!

Portrait of Alfonso XIII on horseback by Ramon Casas

Besides the Spanish flu, Alfonso XIII is infamous for supporting the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera some years later in 1923. Ironically, the rhetoric of Rivera’s ultra-Catholic regime was directly opposed to the king’s libertine ways. However, both were aligned in wanting to keep the plebs in their place as Rivera went around crushing the burgeoning socialist movement in Spain. Alfonso had his own axe to grind with the radical left as an anarchist had attempted to murder him and his wife years earlier during their wedding.

Anarchist attack

On May 31 1906, the royal wedding carriage was passing down Calle Mayor when anarchist Mateo Morral dropped a bomb out of the window of number 88. The attack was not very well thought out as the bomb bounced off the roof of the carriage into the surrounding crowd killing 25 people and injuring 100. A manhunt ensued and Morral was killed on June 2. The queen was reportedly depressed for months after and her condition didn’t get any better when she discovered her husband’s womanizing ways!

The bomb was thrown from this building on Calle Mayor
Memorial to the victims of the bombing

The socialists never forgave Alfonso for his support of Primo de Riviera and when the Second Republic was established, overturning the monarchy yet again, he and Victoria Eugenie fled to Paris. By this point, the queen had had enough of the philandering porno king Alfonso. Sick of not only his mistresses but also of his poor hygiene and terrible breath, she left for London, reportedly saying: “I’m leaving, I never want to see your ugly face again!” Considering they’d had seven children together she’d more than put in her time!

Portrait of King Alfonso XIII and Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain, in a picture taken by Mullins of Ryde, in April 1906. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Alfonso XIII’s Madrid

If you’re interested in exploring Alfonso XIII’s Madrid, pop into Teatro Lara, where he is said to have visited his mistress Balbina Valverde, then take a look at what remains of the old Hotel Monaco on at Calle Barbieri number 5, a brothel that he used to frequent. You can round off your tour with a visit to Bonaparte’s tunnel, which he used to sneak out of the palace to go gadding about town on his amorous adventures. Better yet, take a gander at El Confesor. The early porno made for Spain’s playboy king can be viewed by consenting adults on YouTube.

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