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Before they were royal: The life of Queen Letizia of Spain

Our summer series continues with Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano – a journalist who became the Queen of Spain.

Born Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano on 15 September 1972 in Oviedo, Asturias, Spain, the future royal was the eldest daughter of the journalist Jesús José Ortiz Álvarez and registered nurse and hospital union representative María de la Paloma Rocasolano Rodríguez. Letizia has two younger sisters, Telma and the late Érika.

Her compulsory education saw her attend the public La Gesta School in Oviedo, as well as the Alfonso II Institute, before moving to the Ramiro de Maeztu High School in Madrid when she was 14.

When Letizia was in her late 20s, her parents divorced. Her father would remarry in 2004 to journalist Ana Togores – just a couple of months before her wedding to the then Prince of Asturias.

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Following in her father’s footsteps, Letizia decided to enter the world of journalism after receiving her bachelor’s degree in the subject from the Complutense University of Madrid. She later obtained a master’s degree from the Institute for Studies in Audiovisual Journalism in audiovisual journalism. It was during her studies at university that she began her career, first at the newspaper La Nueva España and later ABC and news agency EFE. While completing her final year of university, Letizia worked in the international edition department of EFE News Agency. The future Queen of Spain would later travel to Mexico to begin her PhD studies; she also worked with newspaper Siglo 21 while in the country.

Letizia began her journalism career in Madrid working for the city’s branch of Bloomberg TV. According to Casa Real, while employed there, she specialised “in the economy, finance and the markets, under the supervision of the EFE News Agency.” Her career would next see her working for a private channel as a reporter, editor, and broadcaster for CNN+.

By 2000, she was working for Televisión Española on the editing team for Telediario Segunda Edición and served as the presenter of the programme Informe Semanal. The future Queen of Spain was also the presenter for the morning programme Telediario Matinal. Letizia travelled the world reporting on significant events including to the United States after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks. While with the news organisation, she later joined the editing team for the society, education and science department.

Letizia would later rejoin Telediario Segunda Edición to co-anchor and be part of the editing team once again. Her hard work did not go unnoticed, and she was rewarded for her skill and dedication when she won the Larra Prize by the Madrid Press Association – given to the most outstanding journalist under 30 for the year.

Letizia would marry in August 1998 to the high school teacher, Alonso Guerrero Pérez in a civil ceremony. The couple had been together for ten years. However, the marriage would only last a year, and they divorced.

© Casa Real/Casa de SM el Rey

The award-winning journalist met then Prince Felipe at a dinner set up by a fellow journalist at Felipe’s request in late 2002. They exchanged numbers but didn’t begin dating right away (Felipe had to ask at least four times for her to agree to a date). Felipe and Letizia were able to date in secret until they shocked most of Spain with their engagement announcement – as most had no idea the future monarch was dating the journalist they were used to seeing on their screens. Their engagement was announced on 1 November 2003 with a confident Letizia telling Felipe during their meeting in front of the media, “Let me finish.”

King Felipe, Queen Letizia, Princess Leonor and Infanta Sofía at the 2017 events for Spain’s National Day. © Casa de S.M. el Rey

Letizia and Felipe married on 22 May 2004 with Letizia becoming the Princess of Asturias upon marriage. The couple has two daughters, Leonor, Princess of Asturias (b. 2005) and Infanta Sofía (b. 2007). Upon the abdication of his father, King Juan Carlos, Felipe became the King of Spain with Letizia becoming Queen in 2014.

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.