Felipe of Spain. The King of Spain Felipe VI, Head of State - Felipe de Borbón and his wife, the Princess Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano.
The early life of a noble
Felipe VI was born in Madrid in 1968 and given the full name Felipe Juan Pablo Alfonso de Todos los Santos de Borbón y Grecia. He would go on to spend part of his childhood during Spain’s dramatic transition period, when his father, the then King Juan Carlos I took on the surprising role of championing democracy by removing power from supporters of the country’s recently expired dictator Francisco Franco.
Destined to become king of Spain himself one day, Felipe began preparing for the position at an early age, developing a polished and disciplined manner that stands in certain contrast to his father’s more whimsical, sometimes frisky temperament. Juan Carlos I broke from noble character during his reign in several very public episodes, most notably in 2007 when he blurted “¡por quí no te callas!” (why don’t you shut up) to then-president of Venezuela Hugo Chavez. It is difficult to imagine a similar outburst from the more mild-mannered Felipe.
Felipe gave his first public speech at just 13 years of age, at the first Prince of Asturias awards; a memorable and elegant performance. Appearing stately and confident, the young noble unwaveringly launched into his inspired discourse with a confidence that suggested he had already fully adapted to and accepted his current role as His Royal Highness The Prince of Asturias, and future king.
He later earned a masters degree from Georgetown University, two years that likely gave Felipe the closest taste of freedom he would ever experience. Felipe also received military training from 1985-88. Felipe is a former Olympic athlete, having represented Spain on the Olympic sailing team at the 1992 games hosted in Barcelona.
His very public life has required him to follow a busy schedule attending events and meetings in Spain and abroad related to a variety of official and unofficial matters.
Felipe spent years as a highly eligible young bachelor. His royal highness dated several women including the underwear model Eva Sannum. The prince’s bachelorhood provided a field day of fodder and excited speculation for tabloids and gossip hounds for years. As the single young royal headed toward his late 20s, then dove headlong into his 30s and still hadn’t married, the media buzz surrounding his eligibility continued growing. The unhitched heir apparent fueled great interest. Then Felipe dropped the bomb. In 2003, tabloid readers and casa real fanatics were wholly shocked, disappointed and/or delighted to discover in their favorite pink press periodicals the juicy story of the prince’s engagement to a mysterious and attractive woman.
Felipe VI married Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano in 2003, a divorced reporter and Spanish TV news anchor with no royal blood. The story garnered a frenzy of media attention. The couple has two daughters.
King Felipe VI
In something of a surprise move, Juan Carlos I abdicated in June of 2014. Felipe was formally enthroned the same month in a small quiet ceremony that went nearly unnoticed in the wake of 2014 World Cup excitement. As king, one of Felipe VI’s biggest challenges is proving to today’s Spaniards that it still makes sense in this day and age to even have kings, queens and royal families. Luckily for him, he has been preparing for the challenge nearly his entire life.