The Stunning Transformation Of Queen Letizia Of Spain

When we think of the word royal, it's safe to say that Queen Elizabeth frequently comes to mind. In fact, many fans and spectators alike simply call her "the queen" — no matter where you are in the world, the moniker sticks for the 95-year-old ruler. Her plethora of family members no doubt solidify the United Kingdom's petite yet powerful monarch. From Prince Charles to his two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, the British royal family is full of superstars. Despite its popularity, though, the United Kingdom is not the only country to have a monarchy of its own. Spain's Queen Letizia might be giving the British royals a run for their money.

Queen Letizia is a powerhouse all her own. Born into a commoner family, Letizia knows what it means to be an educated, working professional, as well as a dedicated royal. She is, without question, the picture of grace, confidence, and no-nonsense — we're simply curious why she and her husband, King Felipe, aren't more prominent on the world stage. Have questions about the queen? Here's the stunning transformation of Queen Letizia of Spain.

Queen Letizia was born into a working family

While we often associate tiaras, palaces, and lavish gowns with royalty, Queen Letizia of Spain did not grow up with access to such riches. As noted by Vogue, the queen was born in Oviedo, Spain, in 1972 to her parents, both working-class professionals. Her father, Jesús José Ortiz Álvarez, worked in the news industry as an aspiring journalist, and her mother, María de la Paloma Rocasolano Rodríguez, worked in the medical profession as a nurse. Letizia, born Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano, was the couple's first daughter, and soon became the older sibling to two younger sisters.

Although the British royal family, for example, is tied to the Church of England and serves as its figureheads, Spain and its heritage largely stem from Catholicism. With that in mind, it makes complete sense that Letizia was baptized in the Catholic church located in her hometown shortly after being born. By all accounts, she had a very normal childhood and attended La Gesta School (the equivalent of elementary school) in Oviedo, and later Ramiro de Maeztu High School, per The Famous People.

Letizia pursued an education in journalism

After completing her elementary and high school education, Queen Letizia of Spain set her sights high. Following in her father's footsteps, Letizia pursued a path in news media and journalism and received two higher academic degrees. As per The Famous People, Letizia received her undergraduate degree in journalism from Complutense University of Madrid, and went on to receive her master's degree in audiovisual journalism from the Institute for Studies in Audiovisual Journalism. While we don't often associate higher education degrees with royalty, given the traditions of private tutors and limited time to commit to school, Letizia certainly breaks the mold of royal intellect.

While no longer a working journalist, Letizia is no stranger to her alma mater. As per iMedia, Letizia attended Complutense University of Madrid's 50th anniversary celebration and even received the title of honorary alumni while paying tribute to her school. As for the school itself and Letizia's credentials, it's no wonder she had such a lucrative career — the school is one of the most reputable senior institutions in Spain, and it's responsible for seven Nobel Prize winners. Talk about a legacy!

The monarch got her professional start with a daily newspaper

Given Queen Letizia of Spain's impressive alma mater, it makes complete sense that she hit the ground running after receiving her master's degree. While she originally expressed interest in pursuing professional paths in dance and literature, per Hello! Magazine, her ultimate goal was to follow in her dad's footsteps and carve a space for herself as a journalist. One of her earliest reporting jobs was with the daily La Nueva España, and from there, Letizia made her way over to the Siglo 21 newspaper.

Clearly, Letizia made a name for herself at the daily publications — her career absolutely took off. Hello! Magazine noted that following her stint at Siglo 21, Letizia was offered a position with the Spanish division of Bloomberg TV. From there, she made her way over to CNN Plus, a 24-hour news channel in Spain. As per AdWeek, Letizia stayed with CNN Plus for over a decade. When her time with the network came to an end, she was hired as the anchor of Television Española's flagship program. Clearly, she was meant to be a journalist.

Letizia's professional life evolved with time

Queen Letizia of Spain might be known now for her role as a monarch, but for some time, she was known for her stellar reporting chops. With time, her career as a reporter escalated in an incredibly successful way, and she was trusted to cover some of the early 2000s' biggest stories. As per Reuters, one of Letizia's first big stories came when she covered the horrifying events of 9/11. She clearly proved that she had what it took to be successful on the ground, going on to cover the invasion of Iraq that followed shortly after, per El País. Shortly thereafter, in November 2002, Letizia was on the scene again when she covered the devastating sinking of the Prestige oil tanker, located on the ​​Galicia coast.

Letizia was certainly getting the kind of attention that any up-and-coming journalist wants, and her efforts were turning heads. As per Hello! Magazine, the Madrid Press Association took notice of Letizia and honored her with its Larra Award. The designation set Letizia apart as one of the "most accomplished journalists under 30," solidifying her success in the news industry.

Letizia met her first husband when she was just 16

When we think about royal scandals, we often think of Prince Charles' affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, or Prince Andrew's troubling past and allegations. However, head-turning affairs and private lives aren't exclusive to the British royal family. As it turns out, Queen Letizia of Spain has a little bit of a skeleton in her marital closet. As per the Daily Mail, Letizia met Alonso Guerrero Perez — a high school teacher — when she was just 16 years old. He was 25 at the time, and the two sparked a love affair that would go on to last a decade. They clearly had intentions to see their relationship through, because Letizia and Perez got married in a civil ceremony in 1998 (this will become important later).

Letizia and Perez may have had young love (very young love for Letizia) on the brain when they tied the knot, but the relationship was not built to last. As per Reuters, the future queen and her former high school literature teacher got divorced just one year after they got married in 1999.

King Felipe was determined to meet the young journalist

Queen Letizia of Spain may have one of the most public roles in the country now that she's a monarch, but she had a very prominent position as an on-air anchor before royalty ever entered the picture. Given her role as an on-camera journalist for CNN Plus and later Television Española, it doesn't come as a huge shock to learn that people knew her name and face solely from her profession. King Felipe — then Prince Felipe — clearly watched the news because, in the early 2000s, he asked a fellow journalist and friend, Pedro Erquicia, to set him up with the thriving journalist, per PopSugar.

So how did the initial meeting go? Some reports suggest that while Letizia did give the prince her phone number, the couple didn't actually make it official for months, and they also dated largely in secret. The monarchy may have also been vetting Letizia, as she was a divorcee and commoner to boot. Because she had a civil ceremony with her first husband, rather than a religious one, the new couple did not require special permission to get married.

Letizia and Felipe's engagement came as a surprise

Late 2003 effectively changed Queen Letizia's life forever, as she and then-Prince Felipe announced their engagement to a shocked Spain. To say that her career and expectations as she knew them were drastically changing is an understatement, but the happy couple expressed at the time how thrilled they were. CNN reported at the time that the announcement "plunged the media into a royal wedding whirl," and pretty much everyone was dying to know who Letizia was and how she snagged the prince's heart. Of their engagement, the future king said, "I am very happy to be able to show how happy our engagement has made me and how in love I am with Letizia," expressing that his first commitment — and now Letizia's — was to "serving Spain."

Of course with any engagement, we have to talk about the ring. Thanks to Express, we have the info. Felipe got down on one knee with an unexpected engagement ring that featured no center stone, but rather 16 baguette diamonds with white gold inlay. The ring was designed by Suárez, and while it's absolutely stunning, it's hardly ever seen on the queen's ring finger anymore.

Letizia and Felipe got married in 2004 in a gorgeous ceremony

Is there an event that really captures frivolity, grandeur, and fairytale-like love more than a royal wedding? We don't think so, and Queen Letizia's wedding to King Felipe was certainly no exception. As per Royal Central, Letizia and Felipe tied the knot on May 22, 2004, in a lavish ceremony at the Cathedral Santa María la Real de la Almudena. The wedding's celebratory events didn't just take place on the day they said "I do," though. The nuptials extended over a number of days and took the form of a gala and formal dinner, as well as the actual ceremony.

Speaking of the ceremony, millions of people tuned in to watch Felipe and Letizia exchange vows, not to mention the 1,600 people in attendance (including Prince William). Letizia stunned in her Manuel Pertegaz-designed gown, and from that moment on, the country of Spain had a new royal to call their own. Of their marriage, historian Charles Powell told Reuters, "What she brings to the marriage is basically that she grounds him. She makes him aware of everyday issues, everyday problems."

Letizia became a mom for the first time in 2005

Shortly after she became a royal by marriage, Queen Letizia of Spain became a mom for the first time. She welcomed her first daughter, Leonor, in 2005 and her second daughter, Sofia, in 2007 — the timing of which was tragic, given that Letizia's sister died by suicide shortly beforehand (per Business Insider). While the two young royals are often seen accompanying their parents on royal outings, not a ton is known about them. Letizia and King Felipe certainly do their best to keep their daughters' lives private.

Of Letizia's role as a mom, expert Elaine Soller told Express that it's clear the queen has passed down her own sense of hard work, dedication, and commitment to her daughters. Harnessing her time as a commoner, Letizia has also shown her daughters what hands-on parenting looks like. "She has been pictured dropping her kids off on their first days of school and ensures, discreetly, that the princesses have time to have fun with their friends," Soller told the publication. "When attending to her commitments as a working queen, she is the picture of confidence, and her strong work ethic has set the bar high for her children."

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Letizia became queen after her father-in-law abdicated from the throne

A coronation always seems like the most official royal occasion, but when Letizia became queen and Felipe became king of Spain, it was all rather muted. As per PopSugar, King Juan Carlos of Spain — Felipe's father — abdicated the throne in 2014 due to health issues and questionable financial ongoings. As per the succession to the crown, Prince Felipe became king, and Letizia queen, respectively.

We know what you're thinking — there were crowns, jewels, some sort of cape, and definitely a palace involved in the coronation, right? In actuality, it couldn't have been further from that. Felipe took his oath as king in about half a minute, and instead of adoring fans and subjects, the historic occasion was attended by members of parliament. Letizia, from our research, didn't have a ceremony herself but rather adopted the title along with her husband. Yep — 30 seconds, no crowns, oaths taken, done — it all seems very low-key given what we associate with royalty. As for her own historic ascension to the throne, Reuters noted that Letizia became Spain's "first commoner queen" in that moment — we love to see it.

Letizia's first overseas trip as queen included a special figure

There are political figures, royal family members, and then there's the pope — and the pope always tends to be the most untouchable of all public figures. When it was announced that Queen Letizia's first overseas trip as queen would be to Vatican City, all eyes were on the new ruler of Spain. Accompanied by her husband, King Felipe, Letizia stunned when she held a private audience with Pope Francis, and special attention was paid to her ensemble for the occasion.

As noted by Hello! Magazine, it is in accordance with Vatican protocol that visitors of the pope wear black — if you can recall, Melania Trump wore a black dress and veil during her visit. However, Letizia was granted special privilege for the occasion, as she was (and is to this day, of course) the spouse of a Catholic monarch. As such, Letizia chose a white skirt and jacket look that was absolutely stunning. She paired the look with a tasteful pair of nude wedge heels, pearl earrings, and a white clutch — talk about angelic.

Letizia was involved in a banking scandal in 2016

No royal is without scandal, and in 2016, Queen Letizia of Spain found herself on the wrong side of the headline. As per The Guardian, the queen came under fire when text messages between her and controversial businessman Javier López Madrid — who also happened to be a good friend of King Felipe — were leaked to the public. The texts, which were friendly and jovial in nature, were released shortly after Madrid was accused of "personally misusing bank funds." In part, it resulted in the European Union's "bailout of Spain's financial sector." Overall, not a good look.

So what did the texts say? First and foremost, Letizia called Madrid her "yoga mate" and later told him that the stories about the credit use weren't authentic to his character. "We know who you are and you know who we are. We know each other, like each other, respect each other," Letizia wrote. "To hell with the rest. Kisses yoga mate (miss you!!!)" Even Felipe got involved, affirming Madrid's statement that "We live in a very difficult country" with his own message. "We do indeed!" the king wrote. 

The queen became an outspoken advocate for children amid the COVID-19 pandemic

To say that the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything is an understatement, and Queen Letizia of Spain took it upon herself to advocate for the children of the pandemic. As noted by Royal Central, Letizia used her role as honorary president of UNICEF Spain to bring attention to the children missing out on social opportunities, educational advancement, and even worse, children who suffered due to poor conditions and quality of life. In a speech that took place in partnership with the Caixa Foundation, Letizia did not mince her words.

"All the success achieved has reverted back, because of the pandemic, in all of the important indicators for childhood," Letizia said during her speech. Taking a moment to bring children who are suffering to the forefront of thought, the queen discussed those "exploited for work or sexually, or both" due to the pandemic's impacts across socio-economic levels. She implored supporters to make conscious efforts toward change. "In what kind of society do we want to live?" she asked during her impassioned speech. "The will of societies like ours ... have the means to change this reality," she concluded, making her stance firmly known.

Letizia continues to make her stance on world issues known

The world has watched in horror and disgust as Russian forces have descended upon Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin has been chastised by many corners of the world, and none other than Queen Letizia of Spain has made her stance on Russia's decision known. As per Vogue, Letizia attended an event held by the Mutua Madrileña Foundation in Madrid, Spain, and wore a vyshyvanka. The vyshyvanka — a traditional Ukrainian blouse — has a rich history and is even honored in Ukraine with its own day of celebration. As such, Letizia's decision did not go unnoticed, and her effort echoed a larger attitude that Spain has taken toward the Ukraine crisis.

Vogue noted that along with 141 United Nation countries, Spain has condemned Russia for its unprompted and deadly attacks on the Ukrainian people, and has joined other countries in anti-Russian efforts. CNN noted that Spain closed its airspace to all Russian airlines, following the European Union's guidance on the escalating situation. While Letizia's nod to the Ukrainian people was subtle, her public display of support could be seen as consequential for public attitudes and support of the Ukrainian people.