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Who is King Felipe of Spain?

We take a look at the life of King Felipe VI of Spain

Felipe Juan Pablo Alfonso de Todos los Santos was born on 30 January 1968 at the Nuestra Señora de Loreto Clinic in Madrid, Spain, to then Infante Juan Carlos and Infanta Sofía of Spain. He is their youngest child and only son; he has two older sisters, Infantas Elena (b. 1963) and Cristina (b. 1965).

He was christened into the Roman Catholic Church on 8 February 1968 at Zarzuela Palace with Casimiro Morcillo, the Archbishop of Madrid officiating. His godparents were his paternal great-grandmother Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain and his paternal grandfather Infante Juan of Spain, Count of Barcelona.

Felipe in his mother’s arms with his maternal grandmother, sisters, and father in 1968. Photo: Sdfr345 (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Wikimedia Commons

 

Felipe is of royal blood on both sides of his family. While his paternal family ruled over Spain, his maternal family had ruled over Greece until a military junta abolished the monarchy in 1967. His maternal uncle is Greece’s former monarch, King Constantine. His aunt by marriage, Queen Anne-Marie, was born Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark – the daughter of King Frederick IX of Denmark and sister of Denmark’s current Queen Margrethe.

He began his education at Santa María de los Rosales school and attended high school in Ontario, Canada, at the Lakefield College School. He would go on to study law at the Autonomous University of Madrid. He would go on to obtain his master’s degree from Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service in Washington D.C., where he lived with his first cousin, Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece.

When Felipe was seven-years-old, his father ascended the Spanish throne after the death of dictator General Francisco Franco. He was named Prince of Asturias two years later. In 1981, his father bestowed upon him the Order of the Golden Fleece. When he turned 18 in 1986, he swore allegiance to the Spanish Constitution and Parliament, as required of him to one day succeed the throne.

The then Prince of Asturias began training at the General Military Academy in Zaragoza in September 1985. The next year he began training at the Escuela Naval Militar in Pontevedra and trained on the training ship Juan Sebastián Elcano. Felipe received his air force training at the Academia General del Aire in 1987.

In 1992, Felipe was a member of the Spanish sailing team at the Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona. He was also the flag bearer for the Opening Ceremony for Team Spain.

In 2000, the future King of Spain travelled to Sydney, Australia, for the Summer Olympic Games. On 16 September, he was at the Slip Inn where he met up with his first cousin, Prince Nikolaos of Greece, who was in Australia with his first cousin, Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark. Felipe knew the sister of a flatmate of a woman named Mary Donaldson. It was that night that Crown Prince Frederik met who would become Crown Princess Mary.

Felipe and Letizia in November 2003. Photo: 20 Minutes newspaper (CC BY-SA 3.0 es) via Wikimedia Commons

Casa Real announced on 1 November 2003 that Felipe was engaged to Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano. Letizia was well-known television journalist in Spain and a divorcee. On 22 May 2004, they married in Madrid at the Almudena Cathedral. They have two daughters: Leonor, Princess of Asturias (b. 31 October 2005) and Infanta Sofía (b. 29 April 2007).

On 2 June 2014, his father, King Juan Carlos announced that he was abdicating in favour of his son. Spain’s parliament, Cortes Generales, had to pass a law to allow for Felipe’s ascension to the throne since there was no process for abdication in the Constitution of Spain. Felipe became King of Spain at midnight on 19 June; later that day, he was crowned in the Palacio de las Cortes. In February of 2015, due to the economic recession in Spain, King Felipe announced that he was cutting his annual salary by 20%.

King Felipe, Queen Letizia, Leonor, Princess of Asturias, and the Infanta Sofía participate in the National Day festivities in Madrid. Photo: Marco Romero/MDE

The King speaks Spanish, English, French, Catalan, and a little Greek. He holds foreign honours from the following countries: Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Jordan, Latvia, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

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