For Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano, it was a chance encounter that opened the possibility of a future that some can only dream of. As the granddaughter of a taxi driver, the daughter of a journalist father and nurse mother, a divorcée, and a TV newscaster, her story could belong to thousands of people, except for one small detail: she met a prince at a party when she was 30 years old.
Today, Queen Letizia bears a rather unique mantle. Just as Meghan Markle’s background as a Hollywood actress made her an unlikely candidate for Duchess, so did Queen Letizia’s rags-to-riches history. With humble beginnings, a high-profile relationship with Prince Felipe that reads like a movie script, and style-icon status, she has long been one of our favorite royals – and that’s why we’re celebrating her life for September 2018’s installment of #WCW.
There is zero indication that Queen Letizia had any designs on royal life or could have anticipated what a momentous shift the prince’s interest would cause in her life, but she took to her role with all of the grace, poise, and regality of, well, a queen. Prior to becoming a queen, however, she was a hardworking journalist who earned a Bachelor’s degree from Complutense University of Madrid and a Master’s degree in audiovisual journalism at the Institute for Studies in Audiovisual Journalism.
From there, she started at the Asturian daily newspaper, and later worked for ABC and news agency EFE. She took a leap to television, reporting in Spain for Bloomberg and later moving to CNN. In 2000, she advanced to TVE and was anchoring the weekly news report by 2002 before moving on to a morning news program. Over the course of her career, she reported on major stories such as the contentious US presidential election in 2000, the 9/11 terrorist attacks from Ground Zero in 2001, and the Iraq War in 2003.
It was in 2002 that Prince Felipe’s whirlwind courtship of the beautiful, brainy news anchor began after the two met at a party. Prior to that moment, the Spanish people viewed him as a libertine individual who wasn’t to be taken seriously. At first, the two dated in secret, but then shocked the world with the announcement of their engagement in 2003 – most of Spain had no idea they were even seeing each other. The Spanish took to Queen Letizia warmly, seeing her as a modern and professional woman with her own unique strengths.
The fact that she was a commoner only seemed to make them love her more. They also saw the change that came over Prince Felipe due to their relationship and felt that she had helped him become more statesman-like. At the time of their wedding, Felipe’s title was Prince of Asturias, but he became king when his father King Juan Carlos abdicated the throne in 2014, thus making Letizia the first Spanish queen to be born a commoner. The two were married in a lavish ceremony at Madrid’s Almudena Cathedral on May 22nd, 2004. The King and Queen of Spain went on to have two daughters: Leonor, Princess of Asturias (born in 2005) and Infanta Sofía (born in 2007).
While Spain grew to quickly love Her Majesty, the rest of the world started paying attention because of her impeccable sense of style. Smart jackets – a holdover from her days as a television reporter – are a common staple of her wardrobe, but so are crisp sheaths, floral frocks, and other feminine fare. Her style is also more relaxed than her royal counterparts, and you’ll often find her mixing and matching high-fashion brands like Carolina Herrera with affordable pieces from Zara. In the gallery, below, you’ll see how this fashionable queen does modern style her own way.