Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano will go down in history as the first Spanish queen without a drop of blue blood. The first Spanish queen who is a divorcee, granddaughter of a taxi driver and also the first Spanish queen born in Asturias. A clear departure from the typical model of a Spanish queen embodied so gracefully by Queen Sophia, Letizia’s mother-in-law.Embed from Getty Images
Beyond these objective existential data, Letizia Ortiz is by herself a different character. She comes across as ambitious, controlling and with clear strong opinions. Before marrying into the Spanish royal family, she had a successful although a short career as a journalist travelled the world and displayed a strong self-confidence.
Following the media, one has difficulties to form an opinion about her. Some love her, some hate her. The objective middle ground opinions of her are quite rare, which happens all the time with such personalities.
On 1 November 2003, her engagement to King Felipe of Spain(then Prince of Asturias) was announced sending waves of shock and surprise for the Spanish and international public. That was one engagement nobody predicted and Letizia was by all accounts an unlikely candidate for the royal marriage. The Spanish royal family played the card of a fait accompli.Embed from Getty Images
The fact that she interrupted the Prince of Asturias (that famous “Let me finish”) during their engagement presentation was the talk of the media, but it was much more than that. Her whole presence was a sign of a change that will become clearer in the next years.
She saw herself as an equal to her husband and possibly underestimated the difficulties of adjusting to the royal world. A perfectionist career woman, Letizia seemed to have approached her new life with the same determination and ambition as her journalistic work.Embed from Getty Images
Soon she was to realize that there is no previous experience that can help you adjust to the requirements of royal career and this was an area she needed to start learning from zero.
It was also clear that her mother-in-law’s model was not the right one for the strong personality of Letizia. She needed to create her own way and that was extremely difficult in the context of the Spanish society and the crisis it underwent the following years.Embed from Getty Images
The Royal Family itself provided few useful female examples: Queen Sophia was born as Princess of Greece and had a classic understanding of royal life and duties that seemed to come from a different era. Her sisters-in-law, Infanta Elena and Infanta Cristina were also born in a royal family and although they got university education and careers outside the royal household could hardly provide guidance and assistance to a young woman who found herself almost overnight as part of a world that was so different from her previous life.
However, royal marriages to commoners seemed to have happened in almost all the European royal houses in the last 15 years. Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, Crown Princess Mette Marit of Norway, Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, Duchess of Cambridge are all examples of a new royal model that gained a lot of popularity.Embed from Getty Images
Letizia was stubbornly different and she seemed to have struggled the most with her new life. Criticizing her became an almost national sport in Spain; her choice of clothes and her plastic surgeries were always more talked about than the speeches and messages Letizia wanted to promote.
The public never missed a chance to judge her and to point out the influence she has on her royal husband. Life in the spotlight is never easy and many times Letizia seems to land on the negative side of the story.
The birth of her two daughters (Leonor, the future Queen of Spain and Infanta Sofia) secured the throne and most probably it will trigger a change of Constitution to allow the firstborn (regardless of gender) to become Queen or King.Embed from Getty Images
Letizia Ortiz joined the Spanish Royal Family 15 years ago and became Queen almost 4 years ago. She definitely influenced the Spanish monarchy, some say for better, others say for worse, but one fact remains: she projected a different type of royal character: strong, opinionated, self- confident (public) and probably insecure (in private), bringing an outside perspective to the royal view of the world and impacting the future generations of Spanish royals. Quite a big role for an ambitious girl from Asturias.