Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano was well-known in her own right before joining the Spanish Royal Family, but not as an aristocrat, let alone as a fellow royal.
Rather, she was a household name as an award-winning journalist-turned television presenter.
And if her status as a commoner attracted comment, so did her status as a divorcee. This, after all, is one of Europe’s grandest monarchies and Spain remains a traditionally Catholic country.
Letizia, who turns 51 today, was born on September 15, 1972, in Oviedo, northern Spain.
Today, she is wife and queen consort to 55-year-old King Felipe and lives in La Zarzuela Palace on the outskirts of Madrid.
Before marrying King Felipe of Spain, Queen Letizia – who celebrates her 51st birthday today – was already a household name. Pictured: At the Spain Women v England Women, FIFA Women’s World Cup in August
Pround parents King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia with their daughter, Infanta Sofia before leaving Madrid for Wales to start school at the UWC Atlantic College on August 29
The future royal completed a bachelor’s degree in journalism at the Complutense University of Madrid, followed by a master’s degree in audiovisual journalism. She is pictured here presenting the television news
Letitzia’s mother, Maria Rodriguez, was a nurse and hospital union representative.
However, Letizia followed in the footsteps of her father, Jesús José Ortiz Álvarez, and stepmother Ana Togores, who are both journalists.
Her grandmother had been radio broadcaster for more than 40 years.
Letizia began her education in Oviedo, at La Gesta public school, and later at the Alfonso II Institute. At the age of 14, she moved, with her parents and two sisters to Madrid, where she finished at the Ramiro de Maeztu Institute.
The future royal completed a bachelor’s degree in journalism at the Complutense University of Madrid, followed by a master’s degree in audiovisual journalism at the Institute for Studies in Audiovisual Journalism.
After a stint at Asturian daily paper, La Nueva España, she went on to work for ABC, a national newspaper with the third largest circulation in Spain.
Next came a stint at the Spanish news agency EFE before a move to Guadalajara in Mexico saw her take on a role on the local paper, Siglo 21.
Back in Spain a year later, she went on to work towards a PhD.
This, however, she did not complete, choosing instead to get a job at Bloomberg before moving to CNN+ and then news channel 24 Horas.
She won the Madrid Press Association’s prestigious Larra Award, for the best Spanish journalist under the age of 30.
By the time she met Felipe of Spain, Letizia had been married to a high school literature teacher named Alonso Guerrero Perez, who was nine years her senior.
The year after first meeting Felipe, Letizia quit her job and a few days later their engagement was announced. Pictured: Prince Felipe of Spain presenting his fiancee, Letizia Ortiz in Zarzuela Palace, near Madrid, on November 3, 2003
On May 22, 2004, Felipe and Letizia were officially married at the Catedral de Santa María la Real de la Almudena in Madrid
Queen Letizia and her husband share two daughters, Leonor Princess of Asturias and Infanta Sofia. Pictured: The Spanish Royal Family visiting Los Jardines de la Alfabia gardens in Bunyola in July
The couple wed in 1998 following a ten-year romance – with the pair meeting when the future Spanish queen was just 16. They tied the knot in a civil ceremony in the town of Almendralejo, Badajoz, but divorced the following year after just one year of marriage.
By the time she met her husband-to-be, Felipe, in 2002, Letizia was working for popular TV channel 24 Horas, where along with anchoring the popular Telediario 2 evening news bulletin she reported on a wide range of breaking news events.
As a news anchor, she reported live from Ground Zero following the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
She met Prince Felipe the following year – at the site of an oil spillage in Northern Spain. The year after first meeting Felipe, Letizia quit her job and a few days later their engagement was announced.
Reports claim that the then Prince of Asturias proposed to her with a 16-baguette diamond engagement ring with white gold trim, while she marked the occasion by giving him white gold and sapphire cufflinks and a classic book.
Pictured: Queen Letizia and Crown Princess Leonor on the day of her enrolment at the General Military Academy
Letizia became the first Spanish-born queen consort since 1878 and the first Spanish queen to have been born a commoner
Pictured: Queen Letizia, Catherine, King Felipe and Prince William during the Order of the Garter Service at St George’s Chapel, Windsor in June 2019
Her engagement to Felipe came as a surprise to many as the couple had maintained a low-profile romance for several months, before announcing their news.
Letizia’s earlier marriage had caused a degree of controversy in the country, but because it had been a civil ceremony she did not require an annulment before her Roman-Catholic marriage to the Prince in 2004.
On May 22 of that year, Felipe and Letizia were officially married at the Catedral de Santa María la Real de la Almudena in Madrid.
Letizia wore a wedding gown designed by Spanish designer Manuel Pertegaz for the special occasion.
She wore a 15-foot train and a the same diamond and platinum tiara that Queen Sofia had worn at her wedding to King Juan Carlos.
The then-Prince and Princess of Asturias and her husband welcomed two daughters, Leonor, Princess of Asturias, 17, in 2005 and Infanta Sofia, 16, in 2007.
After ten years of marriage, the royal couple became King and Queen of Spain when Felipe’s father, King Juan Carlos, abdicated in 2014.
Not only did Letizia’s engagement to Felipe grab attention for her being a ‘commoner’ from a middle-class family, but also her status as a divorcée
A joyful Queen Letizia joins the Spanish team’s boisterous celebrations following their win at the Women’s World Cup
Letizia became the first Spanish-born queen consort since 1878 and the first Spanish queen to have been born a commoner.
She joined other European Royals – including Prince Albert and Princess Charlene of Monaco, Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark – for King Charles III’s coronation in May.
Most recently, she was pictured joining the Spanish team’s boisterous celebrations following their win at the Women’s World Cup in Sydney.