A former television journalist and the granddaughter of a taxi driver will soon be crowned the next queen of Spain.
Laetizia Ortiz married Crown Prince Felipe de Bourbon on May 22, 2004. With the abdication of Felipe’s father, King Juan Carlos, Filipe is set to ascend the throne, making Laetizia queen.
The beautiful 41-year-old princess will be the first Spanish-born queen since Maria de las Mercedes de Orleans y Bourbon, the first wife of Felipe’s great-grandfather Alfonso XIII, who died in 1904.
Before joining the royal family, Ortiz was already a well-known evening news presenter for Spanish national television TVE.
Ortiz’ middle-class background and a divorce from Alonso Guerrero didn’t go over well with Spaniards. She married the former literature teacher in a civil ceremony in her mid-20s, but the marriage lasted only a few months.
Like Britain’s Kate Middletown, her down-to-earth attitude and elegant style soon won her over in the hearts of many Spaniards. Her likeablity quotient soared after the suicide of 31-year-old sister, Erica, in February 2007.
Born on September 15, 1972 in the northern city of Oviedo, Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano received a communications degree at Madrid’s Complutense University followed by a masters in broadcast journalism.
The couple first met at a dinner party, but their romance didn’t blossom until another meeting in November 2002 at an oil spill in Northern Spain. Ortiz was there to cover the story and he was there representing the royal family.
In 2003, just months after she became anchor of the Spanish national news channel, she quit her job and days later the royal engagement was announced.
The couple have two children – eight-year-old Leonor and seven-year-old Sofia – and live in a wing of Madrid’s Zarazuela palace.
Unlike his father, Prince Felipe is known as a loyal husband and father, and far-removed from corruption and scandal.
However, some say he lacks the magnetic charisma of King Juan Carlos.
“He’s colder in character, more like his mother,” said Eusebio Val, a correspondent for La Vanguardia.
“Juan Carlos is very Spanish – he likes to talk, to joke. Felipe is more distant, more Anglo-Saxon. But he is well-prepared for the role – he’s much more professional in giving speeches, for instance. His father didn’t really do that.”
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