Biography of HRH Princess Letizia of Asturias
Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano was born on September 15th, 1972 in the Sanatorio de Miñor, located on the Galicia avenue and nowadays is the headquarters of the foundation initiated by the philosoper Gustavo Bueno. She was the first of three daughters of the almost newlyweds Jesús Ortiz Álvarez and Paloma Rocasolano. He was from Oviedo and she was from Madrid. Paloma's mother, Enriqueta, was from Asturias and that's the reason why the family usually spent their vacations in Oviedo, and this was the place where Paloma and Jesus met and started dating. She was 19 and he was 22 when they got married on October 2nd, 1971.
The future princess was christened on September 29th, 1972, at the Cristo de las Cadenas Chapel also in Oviedo. Her godparents were Francisco Rocasolano, her maternal uncle and Cristina Ortiz, her paternal aunt. Sadly, Cristina passed away in 2001.
The «z» of her name, that was source of various speculations, was a mixture of will and bad luck. Paloma Rocasolano had become friends with an Italian woman whose name was Letizia, and had been charmed by the way the «z» was pronounced in Italian. The priest, in the church, wrote her name in the Spanish way, with a «c». It was said to Jesus that the only name acceptable would be María Leticia. But Jesus went to the Bishop where he was granted a document in which was shown that the name was acceptable due to the Virgin who had the name Madonna della Letizia. Back at the register's office, much to Jesus's surprise, the employee had written the name in the Italian way.
Soon enough Letizia became an older sister, with the birth of her two sisters Telma (October 1973) and Érika (April 1975).
The girls were enrolled at the public school La Gesta 1 de Oviedo, that was only two streets away from their grandparent's house. Their daily life was a complicated puzzle, as it happens in every family in which both parents have to work outside the house. Jesus took the girls to school in the morning (because Paloma had a shift from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the hospital) and Paloma was in charge of picking them up. Their tight schedule became even tighter because the Ortiz Rocasolanos had decided that their daughters should take part in as many after-school activities as possible so they could broaden their horizons and have a more fullfilling formation. These extra activities were responsible for a very rigid schedule by Paloma. And, because of that, Letizia took a couple of years of music and several years of ballet
At school, Letizia is remembered as a restless child, that liked to participate and had a peculiar pronunciation of the letter «s» (still noticeable) and with a special capability to express and communicate. Her report card, number 3476, was stellar in the human subjects but she was not that good with the sciences. "Special," "perfeccionist," "meticulous," and "expressive" were some of the adjectives used to describe Letizia by her former teachers.
At the age of eight, on May 16th, 1981 she took her first communion.
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When she was done with her school classes, Letizia spent some afternoons at the headquarters of the Radio Oviedo, where her grandmother Menchu Álvarez del Valle worked.
At the beggining of the 80's, Jesus Ortiz had a small production company and Letizia's interest for communications was readily awakened. When she was 10, she began to take part in the «El Columpio» show on Radio Antena 3. It wasn't a superficial experience as many might think due to her early age. Jesus Ortiz gave his two oldest daughters and to other kids the task of preparing and presenting the program.
«El columpio» was heard on Saturday morning. Letizia was the chief-editor of the program. In early 1987, when Letizia was 14, her father went to Madrid, to work with Lalo Azcona. He didn't bring the family with him so as not to disturb the girls' school year. On September, Telma and Letizia went to Madrid to live with their father and started to study at Ramiro de Maeztu. Paloma stayed behind with Erika because they hadn't given her the transfer to Madrid so she stayed one more year in Asturias.
Letizia and Telma finished high school studying at night; their father went to pick them up at the end of classes at 10:30 p.m. At school, she met Alonso Guerrero, a teacher of language and literature, ten years her senior, with whom she started a long-term relationship that culminated on a civil wedding in August 1998 - Letizia was 25 years old. The couple divorced one year later. Letizia's first wedding happened at the same time of her parents' divorce.
At that moment, Letizia was already a very experienced journalist. After concluding high school, in 1990, she enrolled in the Information Science course at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid; in 1995, she received a degree in journalism as a remarkable student. Right after that, she earned a master's in Audiovisual Communication. According to some of her classmates, she didn't belong to the group that loved to spend time at the University's bar. On the contrary, Letizia preferred to sit in the front row and participated actively of the classes.
Letizia started to work as an intern of the newspaper «La Nueva España» in 1992 and 1993. She worked as well at the EFE agency, at their International section. It was from that time that came the short movie «La mirada del ángel» (The look of the angel) that was produced by EFE and directed by Norberto López Amado to promote high definition TVs. In this movie, Letizia played a flying angel.
She then went to Mexico to pursue a Doctorate. While there, she worked at the newspaper «Siglo XXI». When she came back to Spain, she was hired by Bloomberg TV's Spanish division, from there she moved to CNN Plus and then the national channel Television Española, where she became the anchor of its flagship show.
With an outstanding CV under her belt at such a young age, it came as no surprise when Letizia, in 2000, was named winner of the Madrid Press Association's Larra Award for most accomplished journalist under 30. She also covered the first anniversary of 9/11, the Prestige disaster - where reportedly she and Felipe started dating - and post-war Iraq.
At the time of the engagement announcement, Letizia presented, together with Alfredo Urdaci, the second edition of the Telediario in TVE.
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Two days after the official announcement of their engagement, Felipe and Letizia appeared in front of the press on the garden of the house of the Prince, next to La Zarzuela.
Aware of the fact that the only available pictures of them to date were the ones taken during the last Prince of Asturias awards when Felipe went to greet the TVE crew as well of the enourmous interest that their engagement had raised on the media, Felipe and Letizia decided to appear together because, as said by Felipe: "We're very much in love and wanted to show together the big joy we had to become engaged."
The photoshoot happened at the back garden of the Prince's house - a place that will become historical as the place the future Princess of Asturias appeared for the first time with her prince. Protective and largely caring, Felipe showed in each and every moment that he is completely in love with Letizia.
Those were the words the couple shared with the press:
Felipe: We wanted, once we made the official announcement of our engagement, to appear before you all and the Spanish population to thank you for the numerous samples of affection that we have received these two days and also to be together. I am very happy to be able to show how happy our engagement has made me and how in love I am with Letizia. For every couple, it is an important step to become engaged. I say to you with conviction that Letizia is the woman with whom I want to share my life and to form a family and in addition, as to the Crown, I have the security of knowing that Letizia unites all the qualities and capacities necessary to assume the responsibilities and functions as Princess of Asturias and as future Queen of Spain. Our coming together allows us to give continuity to the parliamentary monarchy as it consecrates our Constitution. But above else, We present ourselves here in love, committed, with conviction and full of hope and, of course, devoted to serving Spain and the Spaniards. Thanks.
Letizia: I understand the surprise that this decision caused nearly everyone, but it is a mature decision, the fruit of very intense reflections and covered with the weight and the sureness of the deep love that we have ourselves and of the course that we've undertaken together. From when I was very young I was always a journalist and until the 31 years that I am now, I have exerted my profession with desire, dreams, determination and in that same way I now confront what we started now, with responsibility, vision and hard work to serve Spain and the Spaniards.
On this very day, Casa Real released a statement confirming the solemnization of the engagement would take place at El Pardo palace on November 6th 2003, at 12:30.
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On November 6th 2003, a little after 12:30, just after the engagement ceremony, in which King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia formally asked Jesús Ortiz and Paloma Rocasolano for their daughter Letizia's hand in marriage, and after an exchange of gifts - Felipe gave Letizia a white gold engagement ring and a family jewel, and she gave him white gold and sapphire cufflinks and a book, which is a classic from Spanish literature "El doncel de don Enrique el Doliente" by Mariano José de Larra - Felipe and Letizia appeared outside for the press: 350 accredited journalists from more than a dozen countries were waiting for them.
Holding hands the entire time, smiling and happy was the way everyone saw the Prince of Asturias and his fiancèe.
Felipe highlighted that Letizia will be an «asset» to Spain. Both of them revealed that their relationship started earlier that Spring and they also said that they are planning to have from two to five kids.
When asked about what they thought about each other, their answers were:
Felipe: You're asking me first? Well, there are many, evidently in the eyes of many, but I believe, her eloquence and intelligence, her spirit of responsibility in her work, her courage, I believe all that has been very important. She has many principles, a rectitude and exemplary nature with her work, that has always impressed me and since I know her, much more.
Letizia: On my side, he is an exceptional human being, he is very respectful and sensitive, intelligent, a great reader, which is very important for me. For a while, he has been interested in personal growth and to have a vision on the world that is very just and he is very dedicated to it.
Felipe: I'm going to remind you of this, eh?
(dialogue translation courtesy of nettyroyal.nl)
After the solemnization of the engagement and before the wedding, Letizia attended numerous events together with Felipe and some with the royal family, as she gave her first steps towards learning 'how to be a princess.'
Her first act was the parade celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Spanish Constitution on December 6th, 2003. The parade was followed by an evening event with the entire royal family present.
It became important to show to the world that, despite everything that had been said in the press, Letizia had been warmly welcomed into the Spanish Royal Family.
The pictures below are in chronological order, showing part of the events Letizia took part as Felipe's fiancèe (i.e. those listed on the Casa Real website)
01. December 6th, 2003 - 25th Anniversary of the Spanish Constitution
02. December 6th, 2003 - Gala celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Spanish Constitution
03. December 22nd, 2003 - An audience at La Zarzuela palace.
04. January 23rd, 2004 - Visiting Manet's Exhibition
05. January 28th, 2004 - Watching the opera Tosca
06. January 30th, 2004 - Visiting the Covadonga's monastery.
07. February 03rd, 2004 - Enrique Iglesias' Conference
08. February 13th, 2004 - Visiting ARCO
09. March 5th, 2004 - Visiting the Cristo de Medinaceli church.
10. March 09th, 2004 - Attending other conference.
Some more pictures of Letizia's first steps as a Princess-to-be.
01. March, 11th, 2004 - Visiting the hospitals after the March 11th attacks.
02. March 24th, 2004 - State funeral for the March 11th victims
03. April 11th, 2004 - Easter mass in Mallorca
04. April 22nd, 2004 - Opening of the Legislature
05. May 3rd, 2004 - Lunch with the presidents of the Senate
06. May 8th, 2004 - Universal Forum of Culture
07. May 10th, 2004 - Felipe receiving the Honor Medal of Madrid
08. May 11th, 2004 - Tribute to the March 11th victims at the Atocha Station
09. May 12th, 2004 - Lunch offered by the Madrid community.
10. May 12th, 2004 - Attending a bullfight
The last events attended by Letizia before becoming officially the Princess of Asturias were:
May 13th, 2004 - The gala on the eve of Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Mary Donaldson's wedding
May 14th, 2004 - The wedding of Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark to Miss Mary Donaldson
May 17th, 2004 - A lunch offered by the Spanish president José Luiz Rodrigues Zapatero.
May 18th, 2004 - A meeting with the team responsible for the wedding organization.
Apart from the official events scheduled by the Royal House, Felipe and Letizia also had time for some private fun during their engagement, there included:
Two ski trips,
Visits to Letizia's paternal grandparents' house,
The wedding of Letizia's cousin,
A romantic weekend in London,
A dinner with Letizia's father and stepmother,
Another dinner, this time with Infanta Cristina and her husband, Iñaki Urdangarín,
Some Christmas shopping, and
The final rehearsal for the wedding.
The only time she's flown solo was when she went to have the final fitting of her wedding dress, accompanied by her mother Paloma and Queen Sofia.
And then May 22nd, 2004 finally came, turning Ms. Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano into HRH Princess Letizia of Asturias.
Although she and Felipe are styled Prince and Princess of Asturias, upon marriage, Letizia also acquired the following titles:
Princess of Girona, Princess of Viana, Countess of Cervera, Duchess of Mountblanc and Lady of Balaguer
The pictures below depict:
The Gala Dinner offered in the evening of their wedding.
The first part of their honeymoon
Any comments, sugestions and corrections regarding this thread can be submitted through PM to one of the Spanish Forums moderators, namely, Elsa M. or Anna_R.
This biography was written based on an extensive research around the internet. I would like to thank the following sites from which I collected information (almost all of them in Spanish) and pictures:
Diario de Navarra
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