King Felipe VI first fell in love with his wife, Queen Letizia of Spain, while watching her recite the news on television. He then requested a friend to set up dinner so that he could meet her, but their relationship got off on a rocky start.
King of Spain, Felipe VI, was instantly smitten when he saw his future with Queen Letizia of Spain reciting the news on TV and ensured he met up with her.
Back in 2002, Queen Letizia was merely known as Letizia Ortiz Rocasalano, an international journalist working for Television Espanola, anchoring the evening news and reporting from abroad on headlines like the terrorist attack in New York City on September 11, 2001, and the war in Iraq.
(L) King Felipe VI of Spain and Queen Letizia of Spain at the Elysee Palace on June 2, 2015 in Paris, France. (R) King Felipe with Queen Letizia and their children Crown Princess Leonor and Princess Sofia on December 16, 2021 in Madrid, Spain. / Source: Getty Images
Prince Felipe supposedly asked a journalist friend, Pedro Erquicia, to set up a dinner and invite Letizia so the two of them could meet.
Though reports stated Letizia handed over her number to the prince, that pair did not start dating for a few more months. The duo has gone through a lot to become one of the strongest royal couples ever since. Here are more details.
QUEEN LETIZIA WAS CALLED 'JUST A MAID' BY THE FORMER KING
King Felipe and Queen Letizia attending a luncheon at the Royal Palace on April 21, 2022 in Madrid, Spain. / Source: Getty Images
When King Felipe and Queen Letizia were still dating, she was considered a threat to Spain's royal household by his father and former King, Juan Carlos I.
Carlos perceived his soon-to-be daughter-in-law as "the worst thing that happened to the royal family in many years" before marrying his son Felipe.
But he has always been hostile towards Letizia, branding her a "divorcee" and a commoner." As a former television journalist, Letizia was in an unfavorable position when coming to the Spanish royal family, as it always shut off the media.
Queen Letizia of Spain during a memorial service for the Duke of Edinburgh at Westminster Abbey on March 29, 2022 in London, England. / Source: Getty Images
Queen Letizia comes from a middle-class background; her father was a taxi driver, and her mom was a union activist. A book about the royal family called "The Court of Felipe VI" stated Carlos never liked the arrival of a journalist into the family:
"The master never liked the arrival of a journalist in a place that had traditionally been an opaque haven from the fourth estate."
King Juan Carlos and Princess Letizia receive UN General Secretary Kofi Annan for dinner at the Zarzuela Palace in Madrid. / Source: Getty Images
The book was written by two online journalists, Daniel Forcada of EI Confidencial and Alberto Lardies of EI Espanol. They claimed Carlos would entertain friends with jokes that Letizia's arrival would devastate the royals. He referred to her as a 'la chacha,' meaning the maid.
The Times reported that Carlos, who abdicated in favor of his son Felipe in 2014, told friends in 2013 that his child would embarrass the monarchy when he learned his determination to marry Letizia.
INSIDE LETIZIA'S PAST
Queen Letizia arriving at the hospital to visit King Juan Carlos on August 25, 2019 in Pozuelo de Alarcon, Spain. / Source: Getty Images
Queen Letizia was born on September 15, 1972, in the northern city of Oviedo to parents, mother Paloma Rocasolano, a nurse, and father, Jesus Jose Ortiz Alvarez, a prominent journalist. The couple divorced in 1990.
In school, Letizia, raised in a liberal, secular and middle-class environment, had a passion for ballet and literature. Still, her ambition was to follow in her father's footsteps and pursue a career in the media sphere.
She moved to Madrid, where she enrolled for a degree and then a masters in journalism before making her mark as a professional reporter. Letizia graduated from the Complutense University of Madrid and earned a master's from the Institute for Audiovisual Journalism Studies.
Queen Letizia of Spain attending a forum at Arbetis headquarters on December 12, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. / Source: Getty Images
Letizia eventually had her first foot in the door at the Asturian daily La Nueva Espana before going to a complete stint at the Mexican newspaper Siglo 21.
After getting a job at Bloomberg TV's Spanish division, she moved to CNN+ and then the national channel Television Espanola, where she became an anchor of its flagship show.
With an impeccable resume under her belt, it was only natural that she won Madrid Press Association's Larra Award for most accomplished journalist under 30.
Queen Letizia during the National Fashion awards at Museo del Traje on December 19, 2018 in Madrid, Spain. / Source: Getty Images
At age 25, Letizia married a university professor and author, Alonso Guerrero, in 1998. Guerrero was nine years her senior, and they wed following a ten-year romance in a civil ceremony in Almendralejo, Badajoz.
However, the pair divorced in 1999 following one year of marriage. The former couple met when Letizia was only 16 years old. Her engagement to Felipe raised eyebrows because conservatives were uncomfortable with her being a divorcee.
However, religious commentators observed that Letizia's first wedding was not a church ceremony and, therefore, not valid in the eyes of Spain's influential Catholic authorities.
In April 2013, the Daily Mail reported that Letizia's cousin David Rocasolano wrote a book called Goodbye, Princess, which alleged she had an abortion in 2002 – before she met the Crown Prince – and that she tried to keep it under wraps before her engagement was announced.
Queen Letizia attending the SM "Barco de Vapor" and "Gran Angular" children and youth literary awards at the Real Casa de Correos on April 18, 2018 in Madrid, Spain. / Source: Getty Images
According to the book, Letizia purportedly asked for paperwork detailing the abortion to be destroyed. David disclosed that his cousin and her fiance asked him to carry out the task.
The abortion is alleged to have occurred when terminations were still illegal in Spain. The only exception was when there was abnormality or the mother's life, or mental wellbeing was significantly threatened.
FELIPE'S ULTIMATUM TO HIS PARENTS THAT MADE HIS MARRIAGE TO LETIZIA POSSIBLE
Crown Prince Felipe of Spain pictured with his bride Crown Princess Letizia and his parents King Juan Carlos of Spain and Queen Sofia in the Royal Palace. / Source: Getty Images
Nonetheless, Letizia and Felipe got married on May 22, 2004, and their ceremony was considered the most significant royal wedding since that of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.
Letizia became the first commoner in Spanish history to be in line to be Queen and the first in that position as a divorcee. Carlos was not happy about his son's choice.
A member of another European royal family revealed Felipe approached his father to ask permission to marry Letizia with a letter renouncing his right to the throne in his pocket.
Spanish Royals King Juan Carlos, Queen Sofia, Crown Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia during Spain's National Day Military Parade in La Castellana Avenue on October 12, 2005 in Madrid, Spain. / Source: Getty Images
When Carlos suggested that he wait a year or so to ensure that she was the right woman, he handed him the letter. Carlos asked his wife, Sofia, how to move forward, and she said to him:
"You have no choice. If you don't acquiesce, it will be the end of the monarchy."
Carlos chose to stand by the couple, but there was a more significant issue. If the Catholic church had officiated Letizia's previous marriage, the Vatican would have had to extend special permission to allow her to marry Felipe.
Princess Letizia, Crown Prince Felipe, Queen Sofia and King Juan Carlos attending the presentation of the Combat Flag to the Juan de Borbon Military Navy in Barcelona Harbour on November 7, 2004 in Barcelona, Spain. / Source: Getty Images
Luckily, that was not the case, and the pair officially wed at the Cathedral de Santa Maria la Real de la Almudena in Madrid. The royal couple has two daughters, Princess Infanta Sofia and Princess Leonor.
Queen Letizia's life changed forever in 2003 when she and King Felipe announced their engagement leaving Spanish natives in shock. Speaking on their engagement, the then prince said:
"I am happy to be able to show how happy our engagement has made me and how in love I am with Letizia."
Crown Prince Felipe and Letizia Ortiz posing during an official engagement ceremony at the garden of El Pardo Palace on November 6, 2003 at Palacio del Pardo in Madrid, Spain. / Source: Getty Images
Felipe expressed that his first commitment was to "serving Spain." The prince got down on one knee with an unexpected engagement ring, designed by Suarez, which featured no center stone, but 16 baguette diamonds with white gold inlay.
Per Royal Central, Letizia and Felipe got married in a lavish ceremony. The wedding celebrations extended over several days and took the form of a gala and formal dinner and the actual ceremony.
Millions of fans tuned in to watch the couple exchange their wedding vows in front of 1,600 guests in attendance, including Prince William, Duke of Cambridge. The bride turned heads in her Manuel Pertegaz-designed gown for the big day.
Princess of Asturias Letizia Ortiz and her husband Spanish Crown Prince Felipe of Bourbon pictured leaving Madrid's Almudena Cathedral at the end of their wedding ceremony on May 22, 2004. / Source: Getty Images
Historian Charles Powell told Reuters about the effect Letizia has on her husband, saying that she keeps him grounded and makes him aware of everyday issues:
"What she brings to the marriage is basically that she grounds him. She makes him aware of everyday issues, everyday problems."
FELIPE IS PROTECTIVE OF HIS FAMILY
Letizia Ortiz and Spanish Crown Prince Felipe pictured as newlyweds at Madrid's Almudena Cathedral at the end of their wedding ceremony on May 22, 2004. / Source: Getty Images
"Some aristocrats were outraged when Felipe married Letizia," said a royal observer who added they ridiculed her. "They make fun of her behind her back, but they won't say it publicly because they are monarchists."
According to the source, the Queen of Spain is well-aware of such. "Letizia knows it, and she can't stand them. I think she's in a difficult situation. She is a nervous person, worried, upright, tense, and intense," said the commentator.
When coming to their family of four, the crown's first child, Infanta Leonor, was born in October 2005 and is the second in line to the throne. Letizia and Felipe welcomed their second child, Infanta Sofia, in April 2007.
King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia posing with their daughters Spanish Crown Princess Leonor (R) and Princess Sofia in the gardens at the Marivent palace on the island of Majorca on August 4, 2019. / Source: Getty Images
The couple and their kids reside in a mansion next door to La Zarzuela that was built for Felipe before his marriage. A royal insider commented on the couple's relationship, stating it was not an easy union:
"Theirs is obviously not an easy relationship. She is desperately trying to prove that she is a person in her own right. For example, they rarely show up together. She will normally come later, and they will leave separately."
The source further stated, "Sometimes it's a bit awkward. But the look on his face when she behaves like that is of deep affection. He is protective of her."
King Felipe with Queen Letizia and their children Princess Leonor and Princess Sofia on December 10, 2018 in Madrid, Spain. / Source: Getty Images
Meanwhile, assistant editor of ABC Ramon Perez-Maura said it would have been better if Felipe married a royal princess. However, that idea diminished over the years after seeing how Letizia carried herself, stating:
"I think she has done a fantastic job. She's helped Prince Felipe meet groups of society he wasn't familiar with, such as people in the media."
Perez-Maura continued and said he liked that when they got married, the pair began their honeymoon trip driving around Spain, which nobody knew they were going to do, adding that the action came out of Letizia and was brilliant.
King Felipe and Queen Letizia attend the delivery of Royal offices of employment at the Central Academy of Defense on July 18, 2018 in Madrid, Spain. / Source: Getty Images
On the other hand, Laurence Debray said, "The most important thing about Felipe and Letizia is that they are not linked to any kind of corruption. They were ambitious enough to stay away from it all."
The French writer complimented King Felipe on his clean image: "Felipe's a good family man. He doesn't have mistresses. He doesn't go hunting. He's very modern." When coming to his brood, his daughters often accompany their parents on royal outings, and not much is known about them.
King Felipe and Queen Letizia with their daughters Princess Leonor and Princess Sofia visiting the Can Prunera Museum on August 6, 2017 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. / Source: Getty Images
Of Queen Letizia's role as mother, Elaine Soller told Express that it was clear she passed down her sense of hard work, dedication, and commitment to her kids.
As a hands-on parent, the mom of two dropped off her children on their first days of school and assured, discreetly, that the princesses had time to have fun with their friends. Soller added Letizia's strong work ethic set the bar high for her children.
Moreover, when Carlos abdicated from the throne due to health issues and questionable financial ongoings, his son succeeded him as King, and Letizia became Queen.
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