With the just announced abdication of King Juan Carlos I of Spain, his 46-year-old son, Prince Felipe, will ascend to the throne. Accompanying, the soon-to-be king will be his glamorous wife, Princess Letizia, who will become the new queen of Spain. The 76-year-old king decided to abdicate as his popularity spirals downward. He is the third European royal monarch to abdicate recently, following in the footsteps of King Albert II of Belgium and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia have been married for 10 years and have two daughters, Leonor and Sophia. Similar to the UK’s Kate Middleton, Letizia is a former commoner joining the ranks of the royals.
In his almost 40 year reign, Juan Carlos oversaw the change from a dictatorship to a democracy. Popular earlier in his role, the king became a magnet for criticism as his lavish lifestyle clashed with the economic difficulties occurring throughout the country. As a long suspected philanderer, he also was also linked to corruption scandals. To add to the list of popularity killing acts, the king was photographed with his elephant kill in Botswana in 2012, while his countrymen were staring into an economic abyss. The monarch was no longer a source of pride, he had become a source of ridicule and disdain.
Felipe has been able to avoid the stain of his father’s scandalous behavior and his ascension to the throne should give the monarchy a fresh start. Recently, Felipe has performed more official duties than his father and has been more visible. During his bachelor days, the young prince was criticized for his dating activities, including a romance with a swimsuit model. Although he may have been active on the dating trail, the prince was a hard worker, even earning a graduate degree in international relations from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
The former Letizia Ortiz, the current princess who will become the glamorous new queen of Spain, enjoyed a high profile career in television news. She previously worked on camera for CNN, TVE and Bloomberg. Her reporting duties included coverage of the 2000 presidential election in the U.S. as well as reporting from the former twin towers site after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Letizia’s engagement to Felipe initially brought some measure of controversy to the conservative Catholic nation because she was previously married. Although a divorcee, Letizia was able to marry Felipe in a full Catholic wedding ceremony without an annulment because her first marriage was conducted in a civil ceremony outside the church.
Princess Letizia is renowned for her sense of fashion. She looks equally comfortable in casual clothes and ball gowns. Her wedding dress featured a train over 13 feet long and a tiara previously worn by mother-in-law Queen Sophia in her wedding. Accustomed to the camera from her previous career, the soon-to-be queen favors the photogenic outfits designed by Felipe Varela. She even shows off animal prints from time to time in her ensembles.
After the scandal plagued finish to the reign of Juan Carlos, Spaniards will look forward to a fresh start with soon-to-be King Felipe and his former princess, the glamorous Queen Letizia. Spanish lawmakers are feverishly working to set up the legal framework for Juan Carlos to abdicate and Felipe to be installed in his place. Style watchers cannot wait for this to occur in order to begin following the new Queen Letizia.
By William Costolo