Friday 30 January 2015

Former journalist Letizia Ortiz becomes Spain's first commoner queen

Raquel Castillo

Published 19/06/2014 | 11:54

Crown Prince Felipe of Spain and fiancee Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano leave Copenhagen Cathedral after the wedding ceremony between Danish Crown Prince Frederik and his bride Crown Princess Mary
Crown Prince Felipe of Spain and fiancee Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano leave Copenhagen Cathedral after the wedding ceremony between Danish Crown Prince Frederik and his bride Crown Princess Mary with the Danish sailing team. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
Crown Prince Felipe of Spain and Letizia Ortiz pose during an official engagement ceremony at the garden of El Pardo Palace November 6, 2003 at Palacio del Pardo in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)
Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano (Photo by Lalo Yasky/WireImage)
Crown Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia during Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia Conmemorate the International Volunteer Day at Monumental Theatre in Madrid, Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Lalo Yasky/WireImage)
Princess Letizia and Crown Prince Felipe of Spain receive Mexican President Felipe Calderon on January 29, 2007 at Royal Palace in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)
Letizia Ortiz (Photo by Lalo Yasky/WireImage)
Letizia Ortiz
Crown Prince Felipe of Spain and companion Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano attend the M.Rostropovich Concert at the Royal Theatre November 3, 2003 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)
Princess Letizia of Spain receives representatives of the 'Fundacion Sindrome de Down' at Zarzuela Palace on April 9, 2014 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Juan Naharro Gimenez/Getty Images)
The Wedding Of Crown Prince Felipe Of Spain & Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano In Madrid. (Photo by A. Jones/J. Whatling/J. Parker/M. Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)
Crown Prince Felipe of Spain and fiancee Letizia Ortiz attends a special concert at the Royal Theatre for the 25th Aniversary of the Spanish Constitution on December 06, 2003 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)
Prince Felipe and his fiancee Letizia Ortiz stand in front of the Spanish Parliament, "Las Cortes" during the military parade held in Madrid, 06 December 2003 on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Spanish Constitution. AFP PHOTO/ Pedro Armestre (Photo credit should read PEDRO ARMESTRE/AFP/Getty Images)
Crown Prince Felipe of Spain and Letizia Ortiz pose during an official engagement ceremony at the garden of El Pardo Palace November 6, 2003 at Palacio del Pardo in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)
Spanish Prince Felipe (L) and his fiancee Letizia Ortiz (R) arrive at the Moncloa Palace where they are invited for lunch with the Spanish government in Madrid, 17 May 2004. AFP PHOTO/JAVIER SORIANO (Photo credit should read JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)
Prince Felipe of Spain and his fiancee Letizia arrive at the monastery of Covadonga January 30, 2004 in Covadonga, Spain. (Photo by Carlos Alvarez)
Spanish Prince Felipe (C), his fiancee Letizia Ortiz (R) and the chairwoman of the Madrid community, Esperanza Aguirre arrive to a buffet offered by the president of the Spanish independent community (poor Madrilenians) 12 May 2004 . AFP PHOTO/ Pedro ARMESTRE (Photo credit should read PEDRO ARMESTRE/AFP/Getty Images)
Spain's Princess Letizia (R), Spain's Crown Prince Felipe (C) and their daughter Sofia leave the cathedral after the traditional Mass of Resurrection in Palma de Mallorca on April 20, 2014. AFP PHOTO / JAIME REINA (Photo credit should read JAIME REINA/AFP/Getty Images)
Princess Letizia of Spain (C) attends the lunch in ocassion of the "2013 Cervantes Award" at the Royal Palace on April 22, 2014 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Jose Luis Cuesta Pool/Getty Images)

A divorced former journalist, Letizia Ortiz, became Spain's first commoner queen on Thursday when her husband, Felipe VI, was sworn in as king.

With a background contrasting deeply with the royal privileges of her husband, many see in the 41-year-old former TV anchor the survival of the monarchy because of her down-to-earth middle-class roots.

Felipe, 46, became king after his father, Juan Carlos, abdicated earlier this month following a series of scandals and a period of poor health.

Ortiz, daughter of a journalist and a nurse and the granddaughter of a taxi-driver, dated Felipe in secret before their engagement was announced in November 2003. They met at a dinner organised by a journalist friend.

Spain's most conservative factions expressed opposition to the prince's choice, underlining her lineage as a commoner, or one outside the nobility.

But others saw a possible regeneration of the monarchy's archaic ways for a new era.

"I think (their marriage) was a very positive thing," historian Charles Powell of Real Instituto Elcano told Reuters TV. "What she brings to the marriage is basically that she grounds him. She makes him aware of everyday issues, everyday problems."

José Antonio Fernández, a 71-year-old pensioner, appeared to agree.

"The monarchy seems medieval to me, but if there has to be a queen I would prefer it to be someone who doesn't have blue blood," he said

Ortiz divorced in 1999 after a year of marriage with her former high-school literature teacher, Alonso Guerrero.

Her profile is similar to those of other royal partners elsewhere in Europe, and she has been compared with Kate Middleton, the wife of Britain's Prince William, who is believed to be one of the reasons for a surge in popularity at the House of Windsor.

"The preparation of the future queen is solid ... because before she was queen ... she was a woman with a degree, who comes from the lower middle class with parents and grandparents who had to work for a living," Paloma Barrientos, a reporter who covers the palace in Madrid, told Reuters.

Born in the northern Spanish city of Oviedo in 1972, Ortiz worked as a journalist at newspapers La Nueva España and ABC, as well as at news agency EFE before TV channels at Bloomberg, CNN+ and Spain's state TV company Television Española.

She worked in Mexico for Siglo XXI and covered stories such as the 9/11 attacks on New York and the Iraq war.

Ortiz made headlines when the couple announced their engagement and she told Felipe in public to shut up. "Let me finish," she said, smiling, in front of a throng of cameras.

Letizia and Felipe have two children Leonor, 8 and Sofia, 7.

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