22 DECEMBER 2003

Newly-engaged Crown Prince Felipe of Spain made a homely pre-Christmas visit over the weekend, to stay with his fiancée Letizia's grandparents at their village home in Asturias.

The future king and queen were photographed with Jose Luis Ortiz - just out of hospital after suffering lung problems - and his wife Menchu, who, like her granddaughter, used to be a journalist. It was Letizia’s first chance to the region in northern Spain since her surprise engagement to Felipe, who holds the title Prince of Asturias, in November.

Security was tight for the visit, with royal and civil special forces on guard outside the house in the village of Sardéu to keep well-wishers and journalists at bay. However, the popular prince and his bride-to-be decided to emerge for a photo call, and Letizia’s grandparents were more than happy to join them for the informal family shots.

While newscaster Letizia seemed preoccupied at moments with getting everyone properly lined up for the photos, the prince, who'd driven himself up to Asturias, was his usual smiling and relaxed self and kept an arm protectively round his future bride throughout.

Photo: ©
The future king and queen with Letizia's grandparents outside their home in the Asturian village of SardéuPhoto: © PAClick on the photos to enlarge
Photo: ©
Though glamorous newscaster Letizia is perfectly accustomed to cameras, the prince is far more used to an intense level of interest in his private life, and he kept a protective arm round her throughout the photo callPhoto: © Reuters
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