Inside King Felipe VI And Queen Letizia's Marriage

Who can forget King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain, the ultimate royal power couple? The secret love affair between prince and commoner-turned-queen is exactly the kind of romance that inspires legends — or at least the next Hallmark holiday rom-com. Like most fairytale couples, these two had a bumpy start, not to mention their share of family drama and scandal. 

Since their wedding day in 2004, they've worked together to battle the monarchy's declining popularity (via Reuters) by incorporating more transparency and modern ideals. Their efforts have apparently paid off, thanks to Letizia's insights into non-royal issues (via the Associated Press). "Letizia has always been talked about since she arrived in the monarchy because she is such an interesting and complex person who eclipses all others, including the King Emeritus Juan Carlos, when he was king," said royal journalist Alberto Lardiés. "She has become an icon."

With the world celebrating Letizia's 50th birthday in 2022 (via Independent) and getting ready for the upcoming wedding anniversary of Spain's most famous couple in 2024 (via Casa De Su Majestad El Rey), it's the perfect time to look back at their tradition-breaking, heartwarming union. From their first happenstance meeting in 2002 to their matching fashion statements in 2022, we've unpacked every twist and turn in their relationship to give you an inside look at their royal marriage.

Felipe and Letizia were first introduced at a casual dinner

Before she met Prince Felipe, Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano was already a well-known journalist for Televisión Española and kept pretty busy by traveling all over the world as a reporter (via Casa De Su Majestad El Rey). By 2000, she had two college degrees under her belt, a ton of newsroom experience, and even earned a special journalism award before she turned 30.

As for the prince himself, Felipe was on a journey to find love — and the press loved him for it. He dated Isabel Sartorius, who had family drama (via La Vanguardia), and model Eva Sannum (via The Guardian) before he finally met his wife-to-be.

Letizia and Felipe first got to know each other after their mutual acquaintance, Pedro Erquicia López de Montenegro, introduced them at a dinner party in 2002 (via ABC). The prince had split up with Sannum only a handful of months before, but he didn't waste any time getting to know the news anchor. The pair hit it off, and with the way they still look at each other 20 years later, we're not surprised that it was love at first sight.

She didn't say 'yes' to his marriage proposal right away

Felipe and Letizia kept their relationship a secret until they announced their engagement in 2003 (via CNN). The two apparently did a good job of hiding their private life since there wasn't a lot of evidence of their romance and the media was shocked when their relationship was exposed. 

It may have been love at first sight, but it allegedly wasn't an immediate "yes" when the prince asked Letizia to marry him the first time around. Letizia was reportedly caught off guard by the proposal and took several weeks to finally agree to marry Felipe (via Get To Text). After the royal family announced the news to the public, Felipe reportedly popped the question again in a more formal capacity and the date was set. "We present ourselves here in love, committed, with conviction and full of hope and, of course, devoted to serving Spain," Felipe said in 2003 (via CNN).

Letizia had been married once before

The next hot gossip to hit the press was Letizia's status as a divorcee. As it did with Meghan Markle, this piece of news brought up all kinds of questions about the propriety of Letizia's marriage to Felipe. She was previously married to writer Alonso Guerrero Pérez (via Daily Mail) for a short time before their divorce in 1999 (via Casa De Su Majestad El Rey). Because she was married through a civil ceremony the first time around (rather than a full-on Catholic ceremony as the Spanish royals traditionally do), Letizia was able to marry Prince Felipe without getting an annulment (via The Globe and Mail).

Alonso Guerrero Pérez also gained a boost in media attention after the royal engagement was announced, something he's apparently been frustrated about ever since. In 2019, while discussing his newest book and new relationship, he told Hola!: "With other authors, normally they're asked about their books. I'm always asked about the queen. It's uncomfortable, it's strange, when you want to explain your vision of the world, and you're being asked about that topic instead."

King Juan Carlos didn't approve of Letizia

It appears the crown, aka King Juan Carlos I, was also caught off guard by Felipe's choice of bride. Based on "The Court of Felipe VI" — the Spanish royal family tell-all book — King Juan Carlos was not a fan of Letizia (via Daily Mail). The former king supposedly told friends that his new daughter-in-law was "the worst thing that happened to [the royal family] in many years." He also allegedly referred to her as "the maid" and claimed she was out to "destroy the monarchy." According to the tell-all, "The master never liked the arrival of a journalist in a place that had traditionally been an opaque haven from the fourth estate."

Thankfully for Felipe and Letizia, they've seen less and less of Juan Carlos over the years, due to his abdication in 2014. Following his father's formal resignation and departure from the country, Felipe immediately took up the role of king (via Casa De Su Majestad El Rey). Queen Letizia rules by his side to this day.

The royal wedding ceremony was a big event for Spain

Royal weddings are always a big deal, and Felipe and Letizia's ceremony was no exception. At least 25 million people in Spain tuned in to watch the event (via The Washington Post), which is pretty impressive. That's over half of the entire population at the time! 

It was also one of the biggest public events since the fatal terrorist train bombings in Spain earlier that year, which took the lives of 193 people and injured more than 1,800 (via CNN). Spaniards like Rosa Coral saw the day as an emotional reset: "This is a breath of fresh air after the attacks we suffered. We need to get past this" (via Daily Mail).

From head to toe, the bride was decorated with assorted historical accessories, regal embroidery, and a "cascading bouquet" full of secret symbolism (via Casa Real). But when the time came for Letizia to walk down the aisle, it began to rain. "It always rains on the most important days of Letizia's life," wrote royal expert Mábel Galaz (via "Real Letizia" translated by The Limited Times). "The day of her wedding with Felipe, the day of the birth of her daughter Leonor, the day she buried her sister Érika."

They've lived happily ever after since they said 'I do'

Following the ceremony, the family greeted the crowds from the balcony of the royal palace. Later, during the reception, Prince Felipe gave the audience an insight into the depth of his love for Letizia: "I am a happy man because I have fulfilled my most precious dream. I have married the woman I love" (via Hola!).

Though Letizia hasn't made verbal declarations of love in public like her husband, her facial expressions and body language around him tell you everything you need to know. She's often observed making eyes at Felipe during official engagements and outings, including her first public appearance as Spain's new princess (via Hello!). Over the years, the couple have shared some very sweet PDA moments like embracing each other at the 25th Copa del Rey in 2006 and some playful scenes at the Red Cross Fundraising Day in 2012.

They dress to match, often in power suits

For these two, it's all about the power suits. Power suits for getting engaged, baptizing babies, and visiting hospitals. Seeing as Letizia was a news anchor before she became queen, it's not a shocker that she prefers business attire. In 2022, she made headlines for matching her husband with her own pinstripe blazer (via Hello!). The imperial power couple have even been dubbed "one of the world's most consistently well-dressed royal couples" for their matching suits (via Vogue).

When they're not rocking the presidential aesthetic, they both have special royal decorum to wear. Together, they own sashes in a variety of colors, each of which represents a different honor, title, or order bestowed on them by the crown. For example, Felipe received a sash from his father during the abdication ceremony that represents the Captain-General (via Casa Real). Letizia wore a sash representing the Order of Carlos III, a hanging cross-like pin on a blue striped sash (via The Court Jeweller), for Queen Margrethe II of Denmark's 75th birthday celebration in 2015.

They take casual outings like the rest of us

Though Felipe and Letizia both make headlines frequently, they aren't hounded with quite the same fervor as the British royals. According to El País, the next generation of royals in countries like Spain and Belgium have no problem exploring their cities like everyday people. King Felipe has even been spotted walking around Madrid with an incognito security guard and enjoying the movies with his daughters at public theaters.

Felipe and Letizia reportedly go on dinner dates from time to time as well. According to the 2015 book "The Court of Felipe VI," the former commoner was to thank for the king's lax approach to public outings: "The fact that Letizia has persuaded Felipe to go out for dinner in Madrid in places he never knew before makes him more normal for most people," said journalist and author of the book Daniel Forcada (via Daily Mail).

The couple make an effort to live a somewhat regular lifestyle. In 2016, Felipe was seen taking his daughter Sofia to watch Real Madrid play against Manchester City, and Letizia has been spotted with her daughters at a Harry Styles concert (via Semana). Of course, it helps to have royal parents when securing tickets to your favorite events!

They tend to be scandal-free, but their family isn't

Every family has their drama and baggage — even the Spanish royals. It all started when the family patriarch, King Juan Carlos, was discovered to have injured himself during a 2012 elephant hunting trip in Africa. According to The Guardian, Spanish citizens were up in arms because taxpayer money was funding the luxuriously expensive trip, which took place in the middle of a recession. The World Wildlife Fund, a conservation organization, was also quick to distance itself from the king by stripping him of his status of "honorary president" (via The Washington Post). 

Things only got worse from there. King Juan Carlos' daughter, who has since been stripped of her title (via The Guardian), got caught up in a money laundering scandal through her husband. It wasn't long before the monarch decided to step down in 2014 (via Casa De Su Majestad El Rey). 

In 2020, he was still under investigation for alleged tax fraud, something his son has tried to distance himself from (via the Associated Press). "Whatever Felipe does, he is always embarrassed by his father," royal expert Pilar Eyre told Euronews. With Letizia at his side, the new king has made an effort to fix the monarchy's image. On their official website, there's even a dedicated tab for "Transparency" where anyone can view or request information about the crown's expenses.

Letizia hasn't always had an easy time with her royal role

Becoming a princess, and later, the Queen of Spain was not an easy task for Letizia. For one thing, she had to give up the journalism career she worked so hard to obtain. Secondly, as a commoner, she had to make many adjustments to fit royal protocol. According to royal journalist Mábel Galaz, Letizia struggled with the transition. "She used to say what she thought, [but] because of her profession and her character, she began to see how she could not say anything" (via The Limited Times). "My conclusion is that she was a rebellious princess," said Galaz. 

However, once Letizia discovered how she could make a difference as a royal, she apparently began tackling the challenge of change: "[Former queen] Sofía was old school: go to a function, shake hands, smile, pick up a bouquet of flowers. ... She [Letizia] knows that the monarchy has to reinvent itself and be more of a citizen," Galaz explained.

Since Letizia took up the mantle as an impetus for modernization, she's used her royal status to help lift up those in need and highlight areas of society that could use some improvement. She has placed a particular emphasis on science as her biography states that one of her main endeavors as queen is "promoting scientific research" (via Casa Real).

The couple are preparing the next generation to take over

Within a few years of their wedding, Felipe and Letizia had two daughters. Princess Leonor and Infanta Sofía make up the next generation of Spanish royalty, and they've got their work cut out for them. Princess Leonor was named the official heir to the Spanish throne when she was just 8 years old (via Casa Real) and took up her official royal duties after giving a speech when she was 13 years old (via YouTube). She is currently enrolled in a private school abroad and, honestly, it looks like Hogwarts (via Express). Meanwhile, Sofía is wrapping up her time at a primary school closer to home (via RegalFille).

In 2020, Leonor's parents made it very clear what their expectations are regarding their elder daughter's future. According to a report by Diario de Mallorca, when Leonor was asked the infamous question "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Letizia responded with, "What she has to, not what she wants."

That being said, Felipe emphasized that the two girls would have the support of their entire family behind them (via PopSugar's translation of the speech): "Know that you have the support of many people who want the best for Spain, for the crown and for you. Your family will always be at your side."