4) Princess Letizia, Spain
Princess Letizia knows a thing or two about making headlines. A former journalist for Bloomberg and CNN+, this sultry Spaniard was covering the sinking of an oil tanker in 2002 when she first met Felipe, Prince of Asturias. The pair soon fell in love and were married two years later on May 22, 2004. Letizia has since traded in her microphone for a sceptre as she prepares to become her nation’s first Spanish-born queen since 1879.
Letizia, Princess of Asturias was born on 15 September 1972, She is the wife of Felipe, Prince of Asturias, the heir apparent to the Spanish throne. Before her marriage to the prince, she was a journalist and news anchor.
Letizia is the eldest daughter of Jesús José Ortiz Álvarez (born in Oviedo on 24 December 1949), a journalist, and first wife María de la Paloma Rocasolano Rodríguez (born in Madrid on 15 April 1952), a registered nurse and hospital union representative. Her parents divorced in 1999 and her father remarried on 1 September 2000 or in Madrid on 18 March 2004 to fellow journalist Ana Togores N, born ca. 1955.
Letizia’s paternal grandparents were José Luis Ortiz Velasco (ca. 1923 – Sardéu, Ribadesella, 30 March 2005), a retired commercial employee at Olivetti who died of a pulmonary disease, and wife (m. 1949) María del Carmen “Menchu” Álvarez del Valle (Santander, ca. 1928 –), a well known radio broadcaster in Asturias for over 40 years. Her maternal grandparents are Francisco Julio Rocasolano Camacho (Madrid, 21 July 1918 –), a mechanic and a cab driver in Madrid for over 20 years, and half-Filipino wife (m. 1950) Enriqueta Rodríguez Figueredo (Oviedo, 2 March 1919 – Madrid, 22 June 2008); by her maternal grandfather she is of French and Occitan origin.
It has been said, to much popular acclaim, that Letizia had no noble blood, but although her mother came from a working-class family, on her paternal grandfather’s side she is an untitled descendant of the families that were for centuries Constables of Castile and other Royal high office holders. Letizia has two sisters (one now deceased):
Telma Ortiz Rocasolano, (born in Oviedo on 25 October 1973), a Licentiate in Economics from the University of Barcelona and an economist who works for international aid agencies. She has one daughter, Amanda (with partner Enrique Martín-Llop), who was born on 28 March 2008.
Érika Ortiz Rocasolano, (Oviedo, 16 April 1975 – Madrid, 7 February 2007), a Licentiate in Fine Arts and worked as a literary agent. On 7 February 2007, she was found dead in her apartment in Madrid. In recent months, she had taken a leave of absence from work due to severe depression. Her premature death was widely reported by press as due to an intentional prescription drug overdose.
Letizia attended La Gesta School in Oviedo, before her family moved to Madrid, where she attended high school at the Ramiro de Maeztu High School. She completed a Bachelor’s Degree and a Licentiate’s Degree in Sciences of the Information, in the branch of Journalism, at the Complutense University of Madrid, as well as a Master’s Degree in Audiovisual Journalism at the Institute for Studies in Audiovisual Journalism.
During her studies, Letizia worked for the Asturian daily newspaper La Nueva España and later for the newspaper ABC and the news agency EFE. After completing her studies, she spent some time in Guadalajara, Mexico, working at the newspaper Siglo XXI. After returning to Spain, she worked for the Spanish version of the economic channel Bloomberg before moving to the news network CNN+. In 2000, she moved to TVE, where she started working for the news channel 24 Horas. In 2002, she anchored the weekly news report program Informe Semanal and later the daily morning news program Telediario Matinal on TVE 1. In August 2003, a few months before her engagement to Felipe, Letizia was promoted to anchor of the TVE daily evening news program Telediario 2, the most viewed newscast in Spain.
In 2000 Letizia reported from Washington, D.C. on the presidential elections. In September 2001 she broadcast live from Ground Zero following the 9/11 attacks in New York and in 2003 she filed reports from Iraq following the war. In 2002 she sent several reports from Galicia in northern Spain following the ecological disaster when the oil tanker Prestige sank.
Letizia married Alonso Guerrero Pérez, born in Mérida on 12 November 1962, son of Juan Francisco Guerrero N and wife María de los Dolores Pérez Díaz, a Licentiate in Philosophy from the University of Extremadura, a writer and a high-school literature teacher, on 7 August 1998, in a simple civil ceremony at Almendralejo, in Badajoz, after a 10-year courtship. The marriage was dissolved by divorce in 1999. They had no children; he is now married to María del Carmen Astero Martín, a teacher.
On 1 November 2003 to the surprise of many, the Royal Household announced Letizia’s engagement to the Prince of Asturias. Afterwards, she moved to live in a wing of Zarzuela Palace until the day of her wedding. The Prince of Asturias had proposed to her with a 16-baguette diamond engagement ring with a white gold trim. She marked the occasion by giving him white gold and sapphire cufflinks and a classic book.
The wedding took place on 22 May 2004 in the Cathedral Santa María la Real de la Almudena in Madrid. It was the first royal wedding in this cathedral, which was consecrated by Pope John Paul II in 1993. It had been nearly a century since the capital celebrated a royal wedding, as the present king and queen married in Athens, and the prince’s sisters, Infanta Elena and Infanta Cristina, married in Sevilla and Barcelona respectively. As Letizia’s previous marriage involved only a civil ceremony, the Roman Catholic Church does not consider it canonically valid and therefore did not require an annulment from the Pope to proceed for a Roman Catholic marriage to the Prince of Asturias.
The couple has two daughters:
- Infanta Leonor de Todos los Santos of Spain, born 31 October 2005
- Infanta Sofía de Todos los Santos of Spain, born 29 April 2007
- The family currently lives in a residence located a few dozen metres from the Palace of Zarzuela.
Letizia joined from the beginning the duties of her husband and travelled extensively through Spain in representation of the King. They also represented Spain in other countries: the Princess has travelled along with the Prince to Jordan, Mexico, Hungary, the Dominican Republic, Panama, the United States of America, Serbia, Brazil, Uruguay, Sweden, Denmark, Japan, China and Portugal. She also greeted, along with other members of the royal family, international dignitaries. Letizia also attended foreign royalty gatherings in Luxembourg and the Netherlands, for the silver wedding anniversary of the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, as well as the 40th birthday celebrations of the Prince of Orange.
Her solo agenda was announced in 2006, shortly after the announcement of her second pregnancy. Letizia has performed a couple of audiences and her work will focus on social issues such as children rights, culture and education. In late 2007, her solo agenda started to grow in the quantity of events she performed by herself and Felipe’s and Letizia’s agendas became more distinct and separate. Letizia supports Spanish designers, from couturiers such as Felipe Varela and Lorenzo Caprile to Zara and Mango. In April 2013, Letizia’s first cousin, David Rocasolano, wrote a book titled Adiós, Princesa. The book claims that Letizia had an abortion before meeting Prince Felipe, along with many other secrets about her life.
Her full official title is: Her Royal Highness Doña Letizia, Princess of Asturias, Princess of Viana, Princess of Girona, Duchess of Montblanc, Countess of Cervera and Lady of Balaguer.
At the time of her marriage to Prince Felipe, Letizia was appointed to the Grand Cross of the The Royal and Distinguished Order of Charles III as dame on 21 May 2004. Since then, Princess Letizia has received different appointments and decorations by foreign states and other Spanish honours.