On June 2nd, King Juan Carlos of Spain announced his intent to abdicate the throne in favor of his son Crown Prince Felipe. Since that moment, the ever-watchful eyes of the world have been fixed upon the Crown Prince and his family; particularly his wife, Princess Letizia of Asturias, the then future and now current Queen of Spain.
King Juan Carlos’ abdication has undoubtedly caused a stir. Spain is currently going through a period of economic stress and political upheaval and King Juan Carlos’ decision will most definitely have an impact on the country’s future. The Spanish press, has given the announcement a broadly positive reception, calling it an important moment in democratic Spain since the Spanish Parliament had to approve and pass Prince Felipe’s ascension.
The Spanish Constitution did not previously provide a specific process making abdication and royal succession possible, so the Spanish Parliament created and passed new laws allowing King Juan Carlos to pass the throne to his son. On June 19 Crown Prince Felipe of Asturias was crowned King Felipe VI of Spain, with Princess Letizia becoming Spain’s Queen. The new king’s popularity is high and though there is a faction of Spaniards against King Felipe VI’s ascension- and even the continuation of the monarchy, Spain’s future is bright and the international community welcomes Europe’s newest and youngest monarchs.
Queen Letizia has long been a figure of media fixation in Spain and is thus no stranger to public scrutiny. Being beautiful, a recognized news reporter, a previous commoner and divorcee, and then marrying into the royal family in deeply Catholic Spain has made the Queen a media magnet. Throughout, she’s proved herself with unparalleled grace and has long been one of the Spanish royals’ most influential and loved members, celebrated as the country’s first “middle-class” Princess and admired for being a representation of modern womanhood: independent, cultured, and successful in her career.
Before we start on the Queen’s renowned style, let’s take a look at this remarkable woman’s life and achievements.
Future Queen Letizia Ortiz was born on September 15th, 1972 in Oviedo, Asturias. Her father was a journalist and her mother a registered nurse and hospital union representative. She was the eldest of three daughters. Her parents divorced in the late 1990s, with her father re-marrying in 2000.
Letizia wished to pursue a career in journalism and attended the Complutense University of Madrid, where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree and a Licentiate’s Degree in the Journalistic branch of the Information Sciences. Letizia then achieved her Master’s Degree in Audiovisual Journalism at the Institute for Studies in Audiovisual Journalism.
During her studies she worked for the newspaper La Nueva España and later for the newspaper ABC and the news agency EFE (Agencia EFE, S.A). After completing university, she moved to Guadalajara, Mexico, where she worked for the newspaper Siglo XXI.
Letizia then returned to Spain where she worked for the Spanish version of the Bloomberg channel before moving to the news network CNN+. During this time (1998 – 1999), she married and then divorced Alonso Guerrero Pérez in a civil ceremony. From there, she went on to work with Televisión Española in 2000. In 2002 she was sent to Galicia in northern Spain to do several reports on an ecological disaster that occurred when an oil tanker, the Prestige sank. It was on this assignment that she met Prince Felipe, who was in Galicia dealing with the crisis.
Their relationship was kept secret for over a year, before they announced their engagement on November 1st, 2003. They were married in a lavish ceremony on May 22nd, 2004 in the Cathedral Santa María la Real de la Almudena in Madrid. The now- Princess Letizia wore an off- white gown by Spanish couturier Manuel Pertegaz, her bridal shoes by Pura López and her veil (which was a gift from Prince Felipe) was hand embroidered and made of silk tulle. She donned the same diamond and platinum tiara that her mother-in-law Queen Sofia wore at her wedding to King Juan Carlos in 1962. From the moment of her marriage, Letizia became HRH Princess Letizia, Princess of Asturias.
Letizia and Felipe have two daughters: Leonor, Princess of Asturias who was born on October 31st, 2005, and Infanta Sofía, born on April 29th, 2007. The family lives in a residence located a few dozen meters from the Palace of Zarzuela in Madrid.
As the Princess of Asturia, Queen Letizia focused her attention on social issues such as children’s rights, culture and education. Among her favourite causes are research into combating rare diseases, education and support for the World Health Organization’s programs on nutrition.
In the last decade she has attended 190 official events and has held 107 audiences without her husband. She has toured extensively on behalf of the Spanish Royal Family, traveling across Spain in representation of King Juan Carlos, as well as visiting other countries like Jordan, Mexico, Hungary, Serbia, Brazil, Sweden, Japan, China and Portugal alongside her husband as a Royal Ambassador of Spain. Queen Letizia has also attended royal 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.
With King Felipe she has taken 73 trips to 38 countries.
Since the year 2007 Queen Letizia’s solo agenda has grown in the quantity of events she performed by herself and the King and Queen’s agendas have become more distinct and separate.
Queen Letizia is highly regarded as a style icon and she regularly tops best-dressed lists at home and worldwide. She has an effortlessly classic style that is complimented and emphasized by her support of Spanish designers. She notably champions Spanish high-street fashion brands such as Zara, Uterqüe and Mango, as well as couturiers like Felipe Varela and Lorenzo Caprile.
Her style is simply, elegant; she dresses with the sophistication and good taste that a lady of her position is expected to have. When she steps out, every part of her outfit- from her hair to her jewelry and accessories never looks overdone, is always appropriate and always true to her style.
For daytime she prefers simple looks with clean lines and minimal fuss, but pieces that incorporate unexpected details such as beaded hemlines, embroidery and bright prints. Think sheath dresses, full skirts, crisp button-down tops, tailored trousers, jumpsuits and (deep gasp) jeans (that are immaculately tailored). She accessorizes with easily-adaptable wardrobe staples like sharp blazers, cardigans, braided leather belts, GREAT bags and clutches, nude heels, platforms and peep-toe pumps galore!
Formal events are when she goes all out! Queen Letizia is a lady who was made to wear couture and her black-tie choices never disappoint- she goes for drama! Jewel-toned fabrics, luxurious ruffles, embroidery, extensive beading and flowing layers of lace have all been features of her famous gowns- many of which have been produced by her favourite Spanish couturier Felipe Varela.
Her street style is similarly un-bothered, and she always looks amazing while dressed for comfort. Queen Letizia is often spotted in T-shirts, sweaters, loose dresses and boot-cut jeans. She often pairs these with fashionably laid-back accessories like fringed shawls, slouchy jackets, hobo bags, distressed booties, sandals and sporty flats.
Queen Letizia is known as somewhat of a ‘thrifty’ royal as she often wears her outfits more than once, mixing and matching key items of her wardrobe to create new looks. Here, comparisons with the Duchess of Cambridge can be drawn, but Queen Letizia has been making waves in the fashion world for far longer than Duchess Catherine- and in my opinion her style is a bit more polished.
At her coronation Queen Letizia did not disappoint! On midnight of June 19th, 2014, King Juan Carlos officially transferred the Crown of Spain to King Felipe by signing the Act of Abdication in a public ceremony. Later that day, the official coronation took place at 10 am, with the new King and Queen being presented to the public for the first time. Queen Letizia wore a simple black and white patterned Felipe Varela dress to the Abdication ceremony, while for the coronation she donned an impeccably tailored white sheaf dress and matching coat, also by Felipe Varela. On both occasions jewelry and accessories were kept to a minimum, with only earrings and a black clutch being worn to the midnight ceremony and solitaire earrings, a bow decoration (of the Order of Charles III), and beige clutch finishing her coronation look. She wore the same pair of nude pumps to both events.
In today’s world, the roles of the Spain’s monarchs are largely as figureheads who represent the legal personality of the state to their subjects and the international community. The major roles of the King and Queen are to perform ceremonial and official duties as the Heads of State, including representing Spain to the rest of the world, and to provide figures of stability during tumultuous times. They encourage public and voluntary service (i.e. encourage the citizens to join the army and Navy) in the population and recognize and reward outstanding examples of achievement and excellence. The King is the Head of the Spanish Government and has the authority to call elections, announce the start of Parliament and can elect and dismiss Government Ministers on the advice of the President. He also oversees the operation of the Spanish Parliament and ensures that the Constitution and Laws are sustained and that the rights of all citizens are respected and sustained.
As Queen consort to King Felipe, Queen Letizia shares her husband’s rank and holds the feminine equivalent of the King’s monarchical titles, however she doesn’t share the King’s political and military powers (the King is the head of both the Army and the Navy). Despite this, a consort is often recognized as being among the King’s most trusted advisers; there are many examples in history of the queen consort has been the chief power behind her husband’s throne. Queen Letizia basically has to act as her husband’s greatest supporter and provide him with unconditional support in his decisions, while upholding her family’s and country’s reputation.
I’m hoping that the reign of King Felipe and Queen Letizia is a long and prosperous one, and that they do manage lead Spain into a lasting period of prosperity and growth. Meanwhile, I will be paying attention to Queen Letizia’s style and keeping an eye out for more fabulous fashion.
Wishing the new King and Queen all the best!