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Grandchildren of monarchs: King Juan Carlos of Spain


The grandchildren of a monarch navigate the vagaries of royal life more fully than most. While all are born as much loved members of a family, the rules that govern successions mean that they find themselves taking different paths as the years go by. Royal roles beckon for some while others find themselves moving further away from the throne and into a more normal life as time passes. In this series, Royal Central looks at the grandchildren of European monarchs, past and present, with a focus here on those descended from King Juan Carlos of Spain and Queen Sofia.

Felipe de Marichalar y de Borbon

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The eldest grandchild of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain is Felipe de Marichalar, born on July 17th 1998 in Madrid. The first child of their first child, Infanta Elena, and her then husband, Jaime de Marichalar, his arrival was a celebrated moment for his royal family. According to the Spanish Constitution, only the descendants of Juan Carlos can inherit the throne so his birth guaranteed the succession into a new generation. At the time of his birth, he was third in line to the throne and has now moved to fourth in the succession. He is styled as ”excellency” and has the rank of a grande of Spain.

He was christened Felipe Juan Froilan on October 4th 1998 and is usually known by the last of his names which was given in honour of the patron saint of Lugo, the city of which his mother is Duchess. His parents divorced when he was 11. He went to school in Spain, England and the United States before starting university studies in Madrid. He has hit the headlines several times. At the age of 13, he accidentally shot himself in the foot at his paternal grandparents’ home, leading to police questions for his father as under 14s aren’t allowed to handle guns in Spain. In more recent times, his personal life has been followed in greater scrutiny by Spanish magazines and media.

Victoria de Marichalar y de Borbon

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The eldest granddaughter of Juan Carlos and Sofia of Spain is Victoria Federica de Marichalar y de Borbon, born on September 9th 2000 in Madrid. The only daughter of Infanta Elena and Jaime de Marichalar was christened on October 11th 2000 with her maternal uncle, now King Felipe VI, among her godparents. She was given the style of excellency as birth and is among the ”grandees” of Spain.

Victoria attended school in Madrid before beginning university studies in the Spanish capital. Like her brother, her personal life has come in for greater press interest as she has grown older. Victoria was fourth in line to the throne at the time of her birth and is now fifth in the Spanish line of succession.

Juan Urdangarin y de Borbon

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The second grandchild of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia, Juan Valentin Urdangarin y de Borbon was born on September 29th 1999 in Barcelona. The first child of their second daughter, Infanta Cristina, and her husband, Inaki Urdangarin, he was christened on December 12th 1999 at the Zarzuela Palace in Madrid with his aunt, Infanta Elena, as his godmother.

Juan has lived in Barcelona, Washington and Geneva as his family moved around. His early teenage years were marked by the court case involving his parents. His mother was acquitted of tax fraud charges but his father was convicted of embezzlement and is currently completing a jail term. Juan is currently seventh in line to the throne of Spain and has the style of ”excellency”.

Pablo Urdangarin y de Borbon

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Pablo Nicolas Sebastian Urdangarin y de Borbon was born on December 6th 2000 in Barcelona, the fourth grandchild of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia and the second son of Infanta Cristina and Inaki Urdagarin. He was christened at the Zarzuela Palace on January 20th 2001 and took the style of excellency from birth. He was named in honour of his great grandfather, King Paul of Greece.

Pablo, now eighth in line to the throne of Spain, has been educated in Barcelona, Washington and Geneva and currently lives with his family in Switzerland.

Miguel Urdangarin y de Borbon

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The fifth grandchild of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia was born on April 30th 2002 in Barcelona. Miguel Urdangarin y de Borbon, youngest son of Infanta Cristina and Inaki Urdangarin, was christened at the Zarzuela Palace on June 23rd 2002 with his maternal uncle, now King Felipe VI, as his godfather.

Miguel, styled as ”excellency” from birth, lives with his family in Switzerland where he is completing his education following stints at schools in Barcelona and Washington. He is ninth in line to the throne of Spain.

Irene Urdangarin y de Borbon

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The last of Juan Carlos and Sofia’s grandchildren to feature in the Spanish line of succession is Irene Urdangarin y de Borbon. The only daughter, and youngest child, of Infanta Cristina and Inaki Urdangarin was born on June 5th 2005 in Barcelona and christened on July 14th 2005 at the Zarzuela Palace. She was given the style of excellency.

Irene lives with her family in Geneva where she attends school having previously been educated in Barcelona and the US. She was born ninth in line to the Spanish throne and is now tenth in the succession.

Princess Leonor, Princess of Asturias

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The seventh grandchild of King Juan Carlos is the one who will, one day, inherit the throne he re-established. Leonor de Todos los Santos was born on October 31st 2005 at the Ruber International Clinic in Madrid. She is the elder child of King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain and was second in line to the throne at birth when she was given the title of Infanta Leonor. She was christened on January 14th 2006 by the Archbishop Cardinal of Madrid with her grandparents, Juan Carlos and Sofia, as her godparents.

On her father’s accession, in June 2014, Leonor became heir and took the traditional title of Princess of Asturias. She currently attends school in Madrid but in September 2021 will move to Wales to complete her secondary education at UWC Atlantic College. The Princess of Asturias has already carried out dozens of official duties, giving her first public speech in 2018 and taking on her first solo royal engagement in March 2021.

Infanta Sofia of Spain

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The youngest grandchild of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia is the current second in line to the Spanish throne. Sofia de Todos los Santos was born at the same Madrid hospital as her sister, arriving on April 29th 2007. She was christened on July 15th 2007. She was third in the line of succession at the time of her birth, moving up one space on the accession of her father as King Felipe VI in June 2014.

Sofia attends school in Madrid and is already a familiar face on royal duties, accompanying her parents and sister at major events including the opening of parliament and Spain’s national day celebrations every year.

About author

Lydia Starbuck is Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton, a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. June has been a reporter, producer and editor, picking up several awards over the years. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.