Who’s Who – The Spanish Royal Family

The Monarchy has a long history within Spain dating back as far as the eighth century, however its existence has always been assured. The Monarchy underwent a period in exile during the dictatorship of General Franco (1936-1975), but was reestablished after his death in 1975, when Juan Carlos I was named as Franco’s successor. Here are the current members of the Spanish Royal Family.

King Felipe VI

Felipe is a relatively new King, having only ascended the Spanish throne on the 19th June 2014, following the abdication of his father. Juan Carlos I stated, “[I] don’t want my son to grow old waiting like Prince Charles.” Unlike the Dutch Royal Family, abdication is not the norm in Spain.

Felipe Juan Pablo Alfonso de Todos los Santos was born in Madrid on the 30th January 1968, during the reign of General Franco. Felipe was still styled ‘Infante’ from birth, despite his father not being King until just before the young Prince’s eighth birthday.

The King holds a law degree from the Autonomous University of Madrid and completed a Master of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, USA. While studying there, he was room-mates with his cousin, Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece.

During the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona, the then-Prince of Asturias was a member of the Spanish sailing team. He was also chosen as the flag bearer during the opening ceremony and his team finished in sixth place.

Queen Letizia

Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano was born on the 15th September 1972 and is the eldest of three daughters. She studied to become a journalist at the Complutense Univeristy of Madrid and the Institute for Studies in Audiovisual Journalism. Letizia went on to become a well known news anchor before marrying Felipe in 2004.

The early stages of her relationship with Prince Felipe were shrouded in secrecy, primarily due to Letizia being a divorcee; she was previously married to Alonso Guerrero Pérez in 1998 for little over a year, but her marriage was not recognised by the church as the couple had married in a register office.

Despite concerns, the wedding took place with only the rain causing any issue on the day. Letizia and Felipe exchanged vows in the Cathedral Santa María la Real de la Almudena on the 22nd May 2004 and have since gone one to have two daughters: Leonor and Sofia.

Somewhat surprisingly, Queen Letizia is the first Queen consort to have been born in Spain since Mercedes of Orléans, in 1878.

Children of Felipe and Letizia

Infanta Leonor de Todos los Santos de Borbón y Ortiz, Princess of Asturias, is heir to the Spanish throne; she was born on 31st October 2005. As she is still a child, Leonor does not carry out royal engagements, but occasionally accompanies her parents to larger events, such as the Dia de la Hispaniad, the country’s national day.

Leonor (right) is the youngest royal heir in Europe.

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Infanta Sofía de Todos los Santos de Borbón y Ortiz (left), the couple’s younger daughter, was born on 29th April 2007. She attends Santa Maria de los Rosales primary school in Madrid, and took her first communion in May 2017.

King Juan Carlos I

Shortly before the start of the Franco regime, Juan Carlos Alfonso Victor María de Borbón y Borbón-Dos Sicilias was born on on the 5th January 1938. In 1969, he was chosen as Franco’s successor, as opposed to his father, who was still alive at the time, because Franco expected him to continue his regime. Instead he soon began Spain’s transition towards a democracy, establishing a constitutional monarchy in 1978.

Like his son, Juan Carlos also competed in the Olympic Games. He took part in the Dragon Class event at the 1972 Munich Games, finishing in 15th place.

In recent years, the King has suffered from some health issues, undergoing surgery for a hip fracture in April 2012., having a further operation in September 2013.

The media had started to speculate a possible abdication at the beginning of 2014, as The King had suffered criticism for his extravagance and some family scandal. However, at the time, The King’s chief of staff denied that an abdication was being discussed. The abdication was ultimately announced on the 2nd June 2014, with health reasons also being mentioned as a factor, but it is generally considered a move to save the monarchy, as Juan Carlos is not that popular.

Queen Sofía

On the 2nd November 1938, King Paul and Queen Frederica welcomed their first child, Princess Sophia Margarita Victoria Frederika of Greece and Denmark. She is the older sister of the deposed Greek King, Constantine II, and related to The Duke of Edinburgh.

Sophia met Juan Carlos in 1954 when her mother organised a cruise for various young Royals, allowing them to meet potential partners and those in a similar rank. It was not until eight years later the couple finally married, on the 14th May 1962 in Athens. Together they have three children: Infanta Elena, Infanta Christina and King Felipe VI.

Prior to her marriage, Sophia converted to Roman Catholicism, thereby relinquishing her rights to the Greek throne, and also began to use the Spanish variant of her name, Sofía.

She too was an Olympic competitor in sailing, this time representing Greece in the 1960 Summer Olympics held in Rome. Sofía continues to undertake royal engagements for her various patronages, supporting causes such as drug addiction and education for the disabled.

Photos: David ScowsillCancilleria EcuadorGerard Van der Leun, Alpha, Esther

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