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Who is Queen Letizia of Spain?

© Casa de SM el Rey/Estela de Castro

Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano was born to Jesús José Ortiz Álvarez and María de la Paloma Rocasolano Rodríguez on 15 September 1972 in Oviedo, Asturias, Spain. She has two sisters: Telma and the late Érika who passed away in 2007.

She was christened on 29 September 1972 at the Cristo de las Cadenas Chapel with her maternal uncle and paternal aunt serving as godparents. She received her First Holy Communion when she was eight-years-old on 16 May 1981.

For her education, Letizia attended the La Gesta School and the Alfonso II Institute in Oviedo; her family later moved to Madrid when she was 14 where she went to Ramiro de Maeztu High School and graduated in 1990. She was said to be a restless child and quite intelligent and articulate; however, she struggled with science-related courses. Letizia was also known to enjoy music and ballet for extracurricular activities while growing up.

Letizia spent time with her grandmother at the headquarters of the Radio Oviedo after school as well as taking part in the El Columpio radio show by age ten on Saturday mornings. The show was on Radio Antena 3 which was run by the small production company of her father. He allowed his two oldest daughters and other children to prepare and present the radio programme.

She chose to follow her father into journalism and began studying for a bachelor’s degree in the subject at the Complutense University of Madrid; additionally, she would get a master’s degree in audiovisual journalism from the Institute for Studies in Audiovisual Journalism. While studying for her degrees, she worked at the newspapers La Nueva España and ABC as well as for EFE – a Spanish international news agency.

After graduation, Letizia worked in Mexico for the newspaper Siglo 21 for her PhD studies; after her return to Spain, she would work at Spain’s Bloomberg and then CNN where she worked as a reporter, editor, and broadcaster.

After dating for ten years, the future Queen of Spain married high school teacher Alonso Guerrero Pérez (who she met while she was in high school) in 1999 in a civil ceremony. The marriage was short-lived, and they divorced a year later. The same year that she wed Alonso, her parents divorced.

In 2000, Letizia worked with the editing team at Televisión Española on the programme Telediario Segunda Edición; she also presented Informe Semanal. According to Casa Real, she would also present “the morning news programme Telediario Matinal, the special sections on the Euro broadcast during the news programmes, and she was sent as a special correspondent to different countries to report on current events.” For example, she was sent to the United States to cover the 2000 Presidential Election and for coverage after the terror attacks of the 11th of September 2001.

Later on, “She was an editor in the society, education and science department, and later once again joined the editing team of Telediario Segunda Edición, which she co-anchored,” according to Casa Real.

On 1 November 2003, Casa Real announced that the heir to the throne, Felipe, Prince of Asturias was to marry Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano. At the time, the announcement came as a surprise to most as not many knew of the relationship. The then Prince Felipe presented Letizia with a white gold 16-baguette diamond ring during his proposal. She also gave Felipe a classic book and white and gold cufflinks.

Felipe and Letizia married on a rainy 22 May 2004 in Madrid at the Cathedral Santa María la Real de la Almudena – less than two months after the Madrid terror attacks and a week after Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark wed Mary Donaldson. It was the first time this cathedral had hosted a royal wedding, and as a whole, almost a century had passed since a royal wedding had been held in Spain’s capital city.

Felipe and Letizia were able to marry in the Roman Catholic Church since it did not consider Letitia’s first marriage canonically valid as it was only a civil ceremony. Otherwise, she would have had to seek an annulment to marry the then Prince of Asturias in a Catholic ceremony.

Celebrations for the nuptials went on for several days with a gala dinner hosted by the King and Queen at Prado Palace the night before for 350 guests. The cathedral hosted 1,600 guests, and the ceremony was watched by millions more on television.

The couple dedicated their wedding to the victims of the recent Madrid train bombings that had occurred in March. They had a bouquet of white roses taken to Atocha station, which was one of the primary targets of the attack. A note was attached to the flowers saying, “Always in our memory, Felipe and Letizia.”

Together, they have two daughters, Leonor, Princess of Asturias (31 October 2005) and Infanta Sofía (29 April 2007).

On 19 June 2014, Felipe’s father, King Juan Carlos abdicated in favour of his son. From that point on, she has been known as Her Majesty The Queen of Spain.

About author

Brittani is from Tennessee, USA. She is a political scientist and historian after graduating with a degree in the topics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in December 2014. She also holds a master's degree from Northeastern University. She enjoys reading and researching all things regarding the royals of the world. Her love of royals began in middle school, and she's been researching, reading, and writing on royalty for over a decade. She became Europe Editor in October 2016, and then Deputy Editor in January 2019, and has been featured on several podcasts, radio shows, news broadcasts and websites.