The wedding of Crown Prince Felipe of Spain

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The weeks of anticipation were finally over as, on Saturday May 22, 2004, Spaniards gathered excitedly to celebrate the wedding of Crown Prince Felipe and Letizia Ortiz Rocasalono. Along with the thousands lining the streets of Madrid many viewed the event in city squares, restaurants and bars across the country. In all, twenty-five million Spaniards watched the wedding and the global audience estimated at more than one hundred million. The festive mood displayed the enthusiasm with which Prince Felipe’s decision to marry has been received and the handsome heir and his radiant bride amply fulfilled the high expectations. It was a remarkable day, not only for its romance and pageantry, but also for its symbolic significance. Spain’s last royal wedding was that of King Alfonso XIII to Princess Victoria Eugenie of Great Britain in 1906. Turn of the century Spain was a troubled, volatile country and the royal wedding was marred by an assassination attempt on the royal couple by an anarchist. The monarchy was far from secure and in the years that followed it was deposed by the second Spanish republic and then excluded under General Franco’s dictatorship. Since Felipe’s father, King Juan Carlos, came to the throne in 1975 the nation’s fortunes have improved greatly. Crown Prince Felipe’s wedding showed how far monarchy and nation have come together. The Spain of today is a stable, prosperous democracy and the monarchy has updated itself to represent a modern, relaxed and tolerant nation.   All of which were reflected in Crown Prince Felipe’s choice of bride. Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano, who became the Princess of Asturias and future Queen of Spain, was born on September 15, 1972 in Oviedo which is in the Asturias region. She is the eldest daughter of Jesus Ortiz Alvares and Paloma Rocasolano and has two younger sisters, Telma and Erica. Her parents divorced in 1998. It is a successful and respected family: Jesus Ortiz is the founder of the TV channel Antena 3 and Paloma Rocasolano works as a nurse in a clinic in Madrid. Although marriage to a ‘commoner’ is no longer an issue for Europe’s royal families, a divorcee could, certainly for the heir to the throne, have presented difficulties. Happily the fact that Letizia had previously been married proved not to be an issue. Her marriage to Alonso Guerrero, a literature teacher, took place in a civil ceremony on August 7, 1998 and ended just a year later. Public opinion was not a problem and the Roman Catholic Church raised no objections, as the wedding had not taken place in church. Letizia’s background is middle class and her life to date that of a modern career girl. She was educated at the Institute of King Alfonso II and subsequently at the Centre Ramiro de Maeztu inMadrid, where she earned a degree in information sciences at the University of Complutense. After gaining her master’s degree in audio-visual journalism she continued her postgraduate studies in Mexico City; during which time she worked for the newspaper Siglo XXI. Her greatest enthusiasms are for music, ballet and literature. A talented journalist she has worked for the Austurian daily La Nueva Espana, ABC News and International Spanish Agency, EFE. After a period working for CNN Plus as a newscaster and reporter, in 2000 she joined the Spanish television channel TVE where she hosted and reported on major events such as the 2000 presidential election in the USA and the situation in Iraq. Her last anchoring work was for TVE’s daily show Telediarion 2. In 2001 the Madrid Press Association awarded Letizia, jointly with another young reporter, the Larra Award. Her final broadcast on TVE was on October 31, 2003, a day before the announcement of her engagement to Prince Felipe. Felipe and Letizia’s first meeting occurred during her assignment covering the sinking of the Prestige oil tanker in November 2002. Prince Felipe had taken the time to view the damage. (Extract from Royalty Magazine Vol.19/03)