When it comes to royals, most people automatically think of William and Kate and the rest of the British monarchy. But they aren’t the only interesting royals in Europe! It’s time to meet King Felipe VI, Queen Letizia, and their two daughters Princess Leonor and Infanta Sofia of the Spanish royal family.
From the reigning King’s time in the Olympics to laws he wants to change in order to have his eldest daughter become his successor, there is a lot that people don’t know about this family. Keep clicking to read everything we know about the Spanish royals.
King Felipe VI And Queen Letizia
As of 2014, the heads of the Spanish Royal Family are King Felipe VI and his wife, Queen Letizia. At the age of 52, Felipe Juan Pablo Alfonso de Todos los Santos took over the Spanish monarchy from his father, King Juan Carlos I, after he abdicated the throne.
Unlike a lot of royals, King Felipe makes a point not to blur the lines between his private and social life, wanting to keep his family out of the spotlight as much as possible. However, he did allow Spanish TV cameras to film his day-to-day life back in 2018, much to the public’s enjoyment.
King Felipe Has Multiple Degrees
Like a lot of monarchs, King Felipe VI is very well educated. Born in Madrid, the royal had every opportunity given to him, including the ability to complete several collegiate programs throughout his education.
From the Autonomous University of Madrid, King Felipe VI has a law degree. Then, he went on to obtain his Master of Science in Foreign Service at Georgetown University, a private university in Washington, D.C. He can also speak five languages: Spanish, English, Greek, French, and Catalan, and took multiple economics classes.
Queen Letizia Wasn’t Originally Welcomed Into The Royal Family
King Felipe VI’s wife, Queen Letizia, was a former CNN+ news anchor when the two initially met. Studying journalism at the Complutense University of Madrid as well as the Institute for Studies in Audiovisual Journalism, Letizia was well educated in her own right.
Unfortunately for her, she was not originally welcomed into the Spanish royal family because she was previously married to Alonso Guerrero Pérez. The family had King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia keep their relationship very quiet until they knew it was serious.
Princess Leonor Is The King And Queen’s Eldest Daughter
The King and Queen have two daughters together, with the eldest being Princess Leonor. As you can see by her picture, she is stunning but still just a child. As of 2020, the Princess of Asturias is only a mere 14 years old, not having made a lot of public appearances because of her young age.
The Princess’s young age doesn’t stop her from participating in various committees, such as the Princess of Girona Foundation and the Princess of Asturias Foundation. More impressively, if she ascends the throne, Princess Leonor will be the first Queen regnant since Isabella II, who sat on the throne from 1833 to 1868.
Infanta Sofía Is The King And Queen’s Youngest
Born on April 29, 2007, Infanta Sofía of Spain is King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia’s youngest daughter. As the youngest, Infanta Sofía is technically the next in line for the throne, right behind her older sister, Princess Leonor.
But, the twist to that is when the Princess has children, they’re technically next in line, proceeding Infanta Sofía in “ranking.” We know, it’s a bit confusing. But, to us, Her Royal Highness Sofía de Todos los Santos de Borbón y Ortiz, Infanta of Spain, has the best royal title!
“Infanta” Is A Title Given To Daughters Of The Ruling Monarch
The title “Infanta” has a very specific purpose for female royals (the male version would be “Infante”). It’s the title given to the sons and daughters of the king, translated to the infant or princess. But there’s a reason Leonor doesn’t have the title of Infanta.
Since her father, King Felipe VI, ascended the throne and she became next in line, her title Infanta Leonor de Todos los Santos de Borbón y Ortiz was changed to Princess of Asturias.
They Live At The Zarzuela Palace
The Spanish Royal Family lives in the Palace of Zarzuela, located in Madrid. While it is the residence and has all of the working offices of the monarchy, King Felipe VI and his family do not live there. They reside in the Pabellón del Príncipe just east of the palace.
But until August of 2020, the palace wasn’t unoccupied. The Palace of Zarzuela was home to King Felipe VI’s parents, King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofía. The former King and Queen lived in the palace since their marriage back in 1962.
King Felipe VI Competed In The 1992 Olympic Games
Before he became King Felipe VI of Spain, the monarch went by the title of Prince of Asturias. And it was with this title that he participated in the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona. Not only was he part of the Spanish sailing team, but he also held the great honor of being his country’s flag bearer during the opening ceremony.
His crew team wound up finishing sixth in the Sailing class, granting them an Olympic Diploma. The certificate is given to the top-eight finishers in any Olympic competition.
King Felipe’s Coronation Was Low-Key
When his father King Juan Carlos I abdicated his rule in 2014, the then-Prince of Asturias ascended to the throne a few weeks later. But King Felipe VI’s coronation wasn’t a lavish affair. Actually, it was quite the opposite.
Due to bad press, the Spanish royal family had received in the past years, King Felipe VI wanted to have a low-key ceremony, restoring the people’s faith in the monarchy he was about to take over. Speaking on the day, the new King said, “[I will be] a loyal head of state who is ready to listen and understand, warn and advise as well as to defend the public interest at all times.”
King Felipe Is The Youngest Monarch In Europe
As of 2020, King Felipe VI is only 52 years old. Considering the other monarchs throughout Europe, this makes him the youngest, by far. And we’re not just talking about Queen Elizabeth II’s 94 years.
The heads of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Belgium, for example, are all over 60 years old. The closest monarch to King Felipe VI’s age is King William-alexander of the Netherlands, who is a young 53 years old. But although King Felip VI is young, he is doing wonders for the Spanish people.
King Felipe Has Held Many Titles
As with many monarchs, King Felipe VI went through a few different titles before assuming the title of King of Spain. When he was born, his title was named Infante Felipe of Spain. With two older sisters who, at the time, were not eligible to ascend to the throne, the now-King obtained a new title, Prince Felipe of Asturias.
Now, since taking his position as the head of the Spanish Royal Family, his full title is King Felipe VI. But he also has the official titles of Duke of Montblanc, Prince of Gerona, Prince of Viana, Count of Cervera and Lord of Balaguer.
King Felipe And Queen Letizia Married In 2004
Prince Felipe and Letizia Ortiz were married on May 22, 2004, at the Royal Palace of Madrid in the Almudena Cathedral. The ceremony was attended by 1,200 guests, including 36 royal households and heads of state. And those numbers aren’t including the people who watched the festivities from the comfort of their own home.
In Spain alone, 25 million people tuned in the watch the heir to the throne marry a CNN journalist. The Prince’s wedding was the first royal wedding to occur in over a century and the first to be held in the Almudena Cathedral.
First Spanish Monarch To Appear On A LGBTQ+ Magazine
As part of the generation that has seen the persecution and mistreatment of the LGBTQ+ community, people were amazed to see the head of the Spanish Royal Family on the cover of Ragap. And this was only a year after he ascended the throne.
This wasn’t the first instance the monarch showed an interest in furthering equality. He is also the first Spanish head of state to invite LGBTQ+ representatives and organizations to the palace. The invite came only a week after his ascent to the throne.
Queen Letizia Is The First Commoner To Become Queen
Before she became the Queen of Spain, Letizia was from a middle-class family. After studying at college, she had a very successful career as a journalist, working for the likes of ABC, EFE, and, eventually, CNN+. But what came as the biggest surprise in her life wasn’t her career, but her marriage to the Prince of Spain.
Never in the history of the Spanish Royal Family was a commoner in line to become Queen, until Letizia. She and the then-Prince of Spain married in 2004, both becoming the heads of the monarchy ten years later.
King Felipe Has Extensive Military Training
Like most monarchs, King Felipe VI went through extensive military training during his youth. In 1985, he became an officer at the General Military Academy by way of Royal Decree. A year later, he was promoted to Cadet 2nd Lieutenant and a Midshipman.
By the time then-Prince Felipe graduated from various military academies, he was a helicopter pilot, a frigate commander in the navy, and a lieutenant-colonel in the Army and Air Force. When he ascended the throne in 2014, King Felipe acquired the rank of Capitán General over all of the Spanish armies.
They Don’t Accept Lavish Gifts
Since ascending the throne in 2014, King Felipe VI has made it his mission to eradicate the corrupt ways of past royals. One of his ways of doing so is making it so that his family does not accept lavish gifts.
Once upon a time, when his father King Juan Carlos I ruled over Span, he would accept expensive gifts such as yachts and Ferraris. Since Felipe took over, he has said they’re not accepting such extravagances as they “compromise the dignity of the institution.”
Princess Leonor Is The Youngest Member Of The Order Of The Golden Fleece
The Order of the Golden Fleece is a Catholic order of chivalry that was founded back in 1430. Originally, it was a way for Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, to celebrate his marriage to Isabella of Portugal. Today, the order consists of two branches, the Spanish and Austrian Fleece, with King Felipe VI and Karl von Habsburg as the grandmasters.
A day before her 10th birthday, King Felipe granted Princess Leonor the Order of the Golden Fleece. And in 2018, she was officially given the collar of the Golden Fleece. Currently, she is the youngest member of the order.
If The King And Queen Have A Son, Princess Leonor Is An Infanta
In Spain, the monarchy operates under a system called male-preference cognatic primogeniture. This means if King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia have a son, Princess Leonor will be displaced in the line of succession to the throne, despite being the eldest child.
In recent years, there have been talks of switching the outdated rule to absolute primogeniture, meaning, regardless of gender, the heir to the throne is the eldest child. Unfortunately, as of 2020, no such legislation has been passed.
In 2015, King Felipe Stripped His Sister, Cristina, Of Her Title
In 2015, King Felipe VI made a difficult decision, stripping one of his sisters of her title. By order of Royal Decree, Infanta Cristina is no longer allowed to use the title Duchess of Palma de Mallorca, due to her involvement in tax evasion with her husband, Olympic handball player Iñaki Urdangarin.
A statement made by the palace in 2015 read, “The Official Journal of the state will … publish a royal decree by which His Majesty the King will revoke the use of the title of Duchess of Palma de Mallorca by Her Royal Highness the Infanta Cristina.”
The Get A Household Spending Budget From Parliament
Like many royal families, the Spanish royal family has a yearly budget from the parliament. According to the 1978 constitution, “the Head of State is entitled to compensation from the annual state budget for the maintenance of his family and household administration, and distributes these funds at his discretion.”
You’ll never guess the amount of money budgeted out to the King and Queen. In 2018, King Felipe was granted 242,769 euros, while Queen Letizia was given 133,530 euros. Unfortunately for Princess Leonor and Infanta Sofia, they don’t get personal allowances because they’re still in school.
Felipe’s Father, Former King Juan Carlos I, Left Spain In August 2020
On August 3, 2020, former King Juan Carlos I, left Spain to live in another country amid accusations of financial wrongdoing. The royal family’s website published a letter from Juan Carlos to King Felipe. It said, “I am informing you of my considered decision to move, during this period, out of Spain.”
The former king is credited with helping Spain transition to democracy following the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975, although the latter part his reign was marred by scandal. The royal house insists that Felipe has no knowledge of his father’s alleged financial dealings. Pictured are Juan Carlos and Sofia on the former king’s 80th birthday in 2018.