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King Felipe of Spain - Biography

All you need to know about the King of Spain, Felipe

King Felipe in blue suit at Wimbledon
Matthew Moore
Online News Writer & Diversity and Inclusion Lead
Updated: 29 July 2023
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Early life

King Felipe as a baby playing with toys© Gianni Ferrari

Born on January 30, 1968, in Madrid, Spain, Felipe known also as Felipe de Borbon y Grecia as well as the Prince of Asturias was a popular figure as a schoolboy, dodging palace bodyguards assigned to him by enlisting the help of his chums.

When the future King graduated as a pilot in the Air Force academy he had the crown of his head shorn in the shape of a "T", as all Spanish Air Force cadets traditionally do when awarded their wings. Apart from stints in all three branches of the armed forces, the 6ft 4in royal has studied abroad - in the US, Canada and Brussels - and has both a masters degree in international relations and a law degree.

He speaks French and fluent English, and loves astronomy, skiiing and sailing. He even competed in the 1992 Olympics as a member of the Spanish sailing team, in the same way his father did two decades before.

Personal life

King Felipe looking Queen Letizia© Carlos Alvarez

His role as heir to the Spanish throne, meant Felipe's love life was inevitably the focus of much media speculation. He enjoyed a high-profile five-year courtship with Norwegian model Eva Sannum, which had inspired a debate in Spain as to whether the Prince should be able to marry a commoner. That relationship came to an end, however, when the Prince announced it had failed to "thrive".

Other girlfriends included US co-ed Giselle Howard, German royal Carolina de Waldburg, and aristocrat Isabel Sartorius, with whom he ended a similarly controversial romance in 1992.

Felipe had always insisted that whoever he chose, it would be "a relationship based on love, respect and kindness", and when the royal palace made the surprise announcement of his engagement to 31-year-old newsreader Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano - a commoner, divorcée and popular public figure - it seemed the Prince had kept his word.

The pair tied the knot in the summer of 2004 in Madrid's Almudena Cathedral. Their first child, daugther Leonor, was born on October 31, 2005, and the couple welcomed their second daughter, Sofia, on April 29, 2007.

Relations with family

On 19 June 2014 with Letizia by his side, he was crowned Felipe VI, replacing his father who abdicated aged 76.

The love and respect Felipe looked for in his life partner is also reflected in the attitude he holds towards his parents. "In the king (Juan Carlos) I have a father, but also a leader, a friend and a counsellor," he says. "My mother has provided the humane, intellectual and spiritual part of my upbringing... I've often been described as being a combination of both my parents, physically and in character. I don't know if that's true and I don't even know whether I'd be capable of extracting the best part of each of them. Perhaps that would be the best thing."


King Felipe at his swearing in ceremony© Pool

Following his ascension to the throne, Felipe set out how he intended to follow his father with taking on a more constituional and ceremonial role. In an address, he explained he would be " a loyal head of state who is ready to listen and understand, warn and advise as well as to defend the public interest at all times".

He has since embarked on reforms as monarch, including the welcoming of LGBT groups to the Palace and cutting his own salary by 20% as a gesture towards his subjects who were suffering from financial hardships.

However, finances have been a source of controversy for the otherwise popular monarch, and in 2020, he was named as a beneficiary, alongside his father, of the Lucum Foundation, which had receieved donations from the King of Saudi Arabia. Felipe acted fast vowing to renounce any inheritence he would receive from his father, while also cutting him off from public funding.

In 2022, he revealed his full financial affairs, with a worth accounting to 2.6 million Euros, while also confirming that he paid full tax on all of his earnings.

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