Queen Letizia of Spain

Discretion is a quality that senior royals need in abundance. And it is something that Letizia Ortiz,who is now Queen of Spain, had to practise to the full during her final days as a newscaster on Spanish television: the journalist knew only too well that she herself would become the main story as soon as her secret relationship with Crown Prince Felipe became public.

But the pretty brunette is nothing if not professional, and she managed to keep her secret. Indeed Letizia's independence and achievements in her chosen career are part of the reason she was so warmly embraced by the Spanish people when the announcement finally came.

Prior to falling for the statuesque prince, she proved herself professionally by reporting from some of the world's most hostile environments. During the invasion of Iraq, she flew out to the country and broadcast live from the frontlines. She has also tackled such complex and delicate stories as the US presidential elections and the September 11 attacks.

But it was in November 2002 when she was sent to northern Spain to cover the sinking of the oil tanker Prestige and the subsequent ecological disaster that she fell for the Prince of Asturias. Felipe had journeyed to the coast to offer his support to the beleaguered communities worst affected by the spill. He and Letizia had met once before, a year previously, at a mutual friend's dinner party, but it was against the unlikely backdrop of an environmental catastrophe that they fell in love. They started dating immediately afterwards, but the relationship remained a closely-guarded secret for many months.

When the moment finally arrived to formally announce their engagement in November 2003, it quickly became clear that the people of Spain were delighted with their future princess. Even the fact that she was a commoner became a cause for celebration, as politicians and headline-writers declared her "a queen for the 21st century".

Letizia's father was also a prominent journalist while her mother, a nurse, was a union representative at one of Madrid's main hospitals. The pair couldn't have had any idea what the future would hold when their daughter was born on September 15, 1972, in the northern city of Oviedo. At school Letizia exhibited a fondess for ballet and literature, but her main ambition was to follow her dad into the media.

She moved to Madrid, where she took first a degree then a masters in journalism, before starting out as a professional reporter. The aspiring hack cut her teeth at the Asturian daily La Nueva España before going on to complete a stint at Mexican newspaper Siglo 21. But there was little doubt that she had a face for television.

After being hired by Bloomberg TV's Spanish division, she moved to CNN Plus and then the national channel Television Española, where she became the anchor of its flagship show. With an outstanding CV under her belt at such a young age, it came as no surprise when Letizia was named winner of the Madrid Press Association's Larra Award for most accomplished journalist under 30.

The announcement of the couple's engagement wasn't entirely without controversy. Felipe's choice of bride was frowned upon by some conservatives, who were uncomfortable with the fact that she was a divorcée. But religious commentators observed that Letizia's first wedding, to her university tutor Alonso Guerrero, was not a church ceremony and therefore not valid in the eyes of Spain's influential Catholic authorities.

Thankfully, most royalists were more inclined to take comfort in the fact that, for the first time since 1879, their country would have a Spanish queen. The current monarch's wife, Queen Sofia, originally hails from Greece, while her predecessors, Maria Christina and Victoria Eugenia, were Austrian and English respectively. And the line of succession was likewise guaranteed when, in the early hours of October 31 2005, the prince and princess welcomed their first child, Leonor. The couple's second child, Sofia, was born on April 29 2007.

On 19 June, 2014 she watched proudly as her husband was proclaimed Felipe VI, replacing his father who had abdicated.
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