23 JANUARY 2008

When an heir to the throne celebrates a milestone birthday one might expect the event to be a formal and grand affair. For family man Crown Prince Felipe of Spain, however, the occasion will be far more low key. The father-of-two has chosen to celebrate his 40th with the release of official photos - of him enjoying time with his beautiful young family.

In the photos the prince, who turns 40 on January 30, is pictured with his ever-elegant wife Princess Letizia. The happy couple, who wed in 2004, are seen playing with their children Princess Leonor, two, and nine-month-old Sofia, in the gardens of the Zarzuela Palace on the outskirts of Madrid.

In one shot little Leonor, who is already renowned for her impish personality, smiles as her royal dad pushes her along on a trike. In another the proud parents are seen reading stories to their daughters as they sit together around a table.

The official photographs are the result of three months work on the part of two photographers, who were given the task of snapping the Prince as he carried out his roles as family-man and a key public figure.

Photo: ©
The intimate snaps, released this week ahead of Prince Felipe's 40th birthday, show the Spanish heir spending quality time with his family in the gardens of the royal palace on the outskirts of Madrid Photo: © Rex
Photo: ©
Two-year-old Princess Leonor, Felipe's elder daughter, gets a lesson in riding a bike from dad Photo: © Rex
Photo: ©
Another image shows the Prince and his wife Princess Letizia reading to their two daughters around a tablePhoto: © Rex
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