31 OCTOBER 2005

Click here to send this news item to a friend Spain's future king and queen, Felipe and Letizia, are celebrating the birth of their first child, a little girl who was born on Monday at 0125 local time in Madrid, and has already been named Leonor. The excited crown prince emerged from the city's exclusive Ruber Clinic just before six o'clock to announce the Caesarean birth. In characteristically considerate style, Felipe thanked the reporters and photographers who'd spent the night in the rain waiting for news before informing them that the baby weighed in at 3.5 kilos and measured 47 centimetres.

"It's the most beautiful thing that can happen to anyone in life," enthused the prince. "Seeing your child being born is just amazing. We are radiantly happy."

The 37-year-old prince also admitted that he'd been so watchful of his wife's progress that he hadn't realised the sex of the baby even when she was put into his arms. It was only when she was being taken away to be washed that he asked, "What is it?!"

Although the delivery came three weeks ahead of time, Leonor is a good size and "seems strong". As for 33-year-old Letizia, who was conscious throughout the operation, she too is doing well, according to her husband. "I described what was going on to her as best I could," said Felipe, "although I haven't got all the technical terms."

Looking to the future, the new royal father said it remains to be seen whether parliament will now change the laws of succession, which currently favour males. At the moment, Leonor is second in line to the throne, but under current legislation, she would have to cede her position to a younger brother.

The little girl will have no shortage of playmates as she grows up to meet the challenges of royal life which Felipe admitted can be difficult – her aunts, Elena and Cristina, already have six children between them.

King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia were informed of her arrival in the middle of the night. "They were very happy, like any grandparents," said the prince.

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Photo: ©
Felipe and Letizia's little bundle of joy arrived three weeks early and was delivered by Caesarean; both mother and child are doing wellPhoto: © Getty Images
Photo: ©
Just four hours after the birth, an excited Prince Felipe describing his daughter Photo: © AFP
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