Queen Letizia ‘completely blindsided’ Spanish people before royal romance announcement

Queen Letizia of Spain visits Royal Academy of Engineering

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The 48-year-old wowed audiences this week as she stepped out in a stunning monochrome look to mark the 275th anniversary of Francisco de Goya’s birth. She has remained firmly in the public eye, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic, which ravaged Spain at the start of the pandemic. Alongside other members of the Spanish royal family, they have made their presence felt, helping boost morale at a time when COVID-19 continues to cause mayhem across the world.

Since becoming Queen seven years ago, she has enjoyed a surge in popularity, and now leads an apparent fairytale life, which originally saw Letizia work as a journalist.

But, in the early days of her romance with Felipe, Letizia and her partner rocked Spain after announcing their intentions to marry.

It was unclear when the couple first started dating, but in November 2003, the royal household confirmed their engagement, with Felipe reportedly proposing with a 16-carat diamond engagement ring with a white gold trim.

In return, Letizia gave her fiancee white gold and sapphire cufflinks and a classic book.

But detailing the announcement, Amazon Prime documentary Princesses of the World examined what impact their engagement had on the public in Spain.

Its narrator said: “Having become a celebrity in her own right, there was no need to win over the public as Prince Felipe’s bride.

“Still, the announcement of their engagement came as quite a shock to the Spanish people, who had been completely blindsided by the royal romance.”

During her speech to confirm the engagement, Letizia noted how it “must be a big surprise” for the public, but their announcement hadn’t been “a quick decision”, adding: “It’s been based on the great love that we feel for each other.”

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The narrator concluded: “However, there was still the matter of Letizia’s previous marriage to her high school literature teacher to contend with.

“Thankfully, the Roman Catholic church found a loophole to allow the marriage.”

When Felipe became King, insiders and historians lavished praise on Letizia, particularly as she became the first Spanish Queen to have been born as a commoner.

As well as this piece of history, Letizia was also the first Spanish-born queen consort since Mercedes of Orléans, the first wife of Alfonso XII, in 1878.

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Historian Charles Powell of Real Instituto Elcano told the Reuters news agency she “grounds” the King.

He said: “I think [their marriage] was a very positive thing.

“What she brings to the marriage is basically that she grounds him. She makes him aware of everyday issues, everyday problems.”

This comment was approved by pensioner José Antonio Fernández, who claimed he favoured the partial from “blue blood”.

He said: “The monarchy seems medieval to me, but if there has to be a queen I would prefer it to be someone who doesn’t have blue blood.”

Reporter Paloma Barrientos, who covered the palace in Madrid at the time, added she had built a “solid” presence due to her upbringing.

She said: “The preparation of the future Queen is solid because before she was Queen she was a woman with a degree, who comes from the lower middle class with parents and grandparents who had to work for a living.”

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