Inside Queen Sofía And Queen Letizia's Relationship

When Queen Letizia started dating King Felipe of Spain in 2002, she didn't have a lot of common ground with Queen Sofía, her future mother-in-law. Sofía is a royal by marriage and by blood. Her parents were King Paul and Queen Federica of Greece, and like many royals, Sofía is a descendent of Queen Victoria. Because of this ancestral connection, Sofía is a distant cousin of her husband, Juan Carlos, former King of Spain, and Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.

In contrast, Letizia's parents worked in journalism and nursing. Letizia followed in her father's footsteps and studied journalism in college. Afterward, she embarked on a successful career as a TV reporter, covering high-profile news stories like the 9/11 terrorist attacks. She even worked as a war correspondent in the second Gulf War. 

In Felipe's previous romances, his parents had reportedly intervened when they didn't approve of his significant other. According to the book "Ladies of Spain," Juan Carlos was not a fan of Letizia and allegedly called her "the enemy within," The Washington Post reports. Even so, after Felipe and Letizia announced their engagement in November 2003, it appeared that Letizia had made a positive connection with Sofía. In a speech soon after, Letizia pledged to learn her royal responsibilities "with the affection of the king and queen and the priceless example of the queen," per Hello! However, it hasn't always been smooth sailing between the two women.

Letizia reportedly clashed with Sofía over parenting concerns

After Queen Letizia and King Felipe married in May 2004,  their daughter, Princess Leonor, was born on October 31, 2005. Less than two years later, Infanta Sofía was born on April 29, 2007. Despite Letizia's strong start in her relationship with Queen Sofía, they reportedly hit a rough patch after Letizia became a mother.

Sofía is an enthusiastic grandmother, kissing and hugging her grandchildren at public outings. Since their homes were less than a mile away from each other, it was easy for Sofía to drop by and spend time with her granddaughters. However, Letizia allegedly wanted to curtail these visits as they disrupted the kids' schedules. Things became more complicated when Letizia's mom stepped in to help out and spend time with the girls. 

Friction between Sofía and Letizia took a public turn in April 2018, when they appeared to have a disagreement involving Leonor and Infanta Sofía being photographed with their grandmother. Video of the incident shows Sofía putting her arms around her granddaughters' shoulders. Letizia approaches, and after adjusting Leonor's hair, both Leonor's and Letizia's hands seem to brush Sofía's hand away. Some media viewed Letizia's move as an attempt to sabotage the photo op. "She worries who takes photos of [her daughter], she worries where they come from ... It's a very motherly reaction," Letizia's friend Imma Aguilar explained on "El Círculo." "Nothing has happened."

Letizia apparently took issue with Sofía's comments in a royal biography

Unfortunately, the uncomfortable incident between Queen Sofía and Queen Letizia on April 2018 went beyond photography concerns. Additional video from that same Easter holiday showed Sofía giving Princess Leonor a kiss. Immediately after, Letizia was observed stepping in and stroking her daughter's face, although it's unclear whether the gesture is in response to her mother-in-law's actions or if she's simply smoothing her daughter's hair again. 

Perspectives on parenthood aside, Sofía and Letizia also encountered relationship difficulties due to a 2008 book, "The Queen Up Close," by Pilar Urbano. The queen referenced in the title is Sofía, since Letizia did not become a queen until King Felipe was crowned in June 2014. The book included some incendiary comments from Sofía involving her views on same-sex marriage. While the royals issued a press release apologizing for these statements, they also claimed Sofía's quotes were either inaccurate or intended to be off the record. 

Letizia was also purportedly bothered by information Sofía shared in the book about her young daughters, specifically information about Leonor talking about the virtues of antioxidant foods. The fallout from the book marked a new reticence on Sofía's part. Even a decade after the book's publication, the queen had refrained from sharing further information about her granddaughters.

Sofía and Letizia also appear to enjoy each other's company

Despite their difficulties, Queen Sofía and Queen Letizia also appear to enjoy each other's company. A week after Easter 2018, the two women posed for photos with Princess Leonor and Infanta Sofía. In addition, Letizia smiled as she opened the car door for her mother-in-law that same day. In August 2022, the two women were spotted arm in arm enjoying family festivities during their vacation in Palma de Mallorca.  

However, not everyone saw unity. "If there is any bad blood  ... it looks as though Letizia is keen to mitigate it via this apparent show of intimacy and friendship," body language expert Judi James informed Express. James noted that, while Letizia touched her mother-in-law's arm while talking to her, Sofía looked at the ground. 

On October 31, 2023, Leonor celebrated her milestone 18th birthday. As the heir to the Spanish throne, she took an oath of loyalty in the Spanish Parliament. While Felipe and Letizia watched their daughter take this historic step in her royal duties, former king Juan Carlos and Queen Sofía, were not present. However, Sofía's absence wasn't due to discord between her and Letizia. Sofía was asked to stay home since her husband was not invited, reportedly due to concerns about the scandals that eventually led to Juan Carlos' abdication. Instead, both Sofía and Juan Carlos got to spend time with their family at Leonor's party.