King Juan Carlos announced Monday that he is abdicating – handing the Spanish throne over to his son Prince Felipe. That will make the wife of 46-year-old Felipe, Princess Letizia, queen consort, but she will be known as Queen Letizia.
Juan Carlos, 76, told a stunned Spanish nation that “a new generation must be at the forefront … younger people with new energies.”
So, who is the woman who will be at the new King Felipe’s side?
1. Career Woman
A “commoner” and divorcée, Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano, 41, comes from a professional middle-class family. A well-known TV presenter and reporter (her father and grandmother were also journalists), Letizia had just won the prize for best Spanish journalist under 30 when she met Prince Felipe at a colleague’s dinner party in 2002. Very much in love, she gave up her career before marrying the prince 10 years ago.
2. Cover Star
Letizia was immediately adopted by magazines “of the heart,” which focused on her dresses, hair, shoes and weight (varying degrees of thin) – along with her two daughters, Leonor, 8, and Sofia, 7, young ladies always as beautifully dressed as their mother.
3. Devoted Princess
The future queen has been committed to her role as princess, carving out a space of her own. In the last decade she has attended 190 official events alone (separate from those she attends with her husband) and has had 107 audiences alone. With Felipe, she has taken 73 trips to 38 countries.
4. Charitable Champion
Among her favorite causes are research into rare diseases, education and support for the World Health Organization’s programs on nutrition. She is also a supporter of Spanish fashion designers, like Felipe Varela.
5. Down-to-Earth Royal
Letizia tries to bring some normalcy and middle-class enjoyment into her royal schedule: She enjoys outings to the cinema, indie music concerts (she goes with friends but arrives after the event has started for security reasons) and once attended a book fair in jeans. She has a mortgage on an apartment and may be the only royal to have traveled professionally on the subway. Leading Spanish newspaper El Pais reports that she and her husband take the kids to school themselves and put them to bed at night. And they might even stay in their current home when the big coronation day arrives.