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Queen Letizia of Spain: Inside her complex relationship with mother-in-law Queen Sofia

Letizia and Sofia have publicly clashed in the past

queen letizia queen sofia© Photo: Getty Images
Gemma Strong
Online Digital News Director
February 1, 2023
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When news of Prince Felipe's surprising engagement to newsreader Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano was announced in November 2003, her close bond with his mother, Queen Sofia, was clear.

The Queen was understood to have taken Letizia under her wing and helped her learn the royal ropes before her marriage to Felipe.

WATCH: Queen Letizia appears to confront Queen Sofia after 2018 Easter Mass

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The two ladies had become so close that Letizia even paid tribute to her future mother-in-law during her first speech since becoming engaged.

"From now on, and more and more, I am going to integrate fully in this new life with the responsibilities that come with it and with the support and affection of…" Letizia said.

queen letizia engaged felipe© Photo: Getty Images

Letizia and Felipe's engagement was announced in November 2003

"… With the affection of the king and queen and the priceless example of the queen."

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Fast-forward past Letizia and Felipe's wedding in May 2004 – and the birth of their two children, daughters Leonor (2005) and Sofia (2007) – and it was clear relations had soured.

queen letizia queen sofia tension© Photo: Getty Images

There have been reports of tension between the two royals over the years

Following speculation in the press, the two ladies appeared to publicly clash in 2018 when the family attended Easter Mass at the Cathedral of Palma de Mallorca.

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The outing had intended to be a show of unity; Felipe asked his father Juan Carlos to attend – he had been absent from the event since 2013. His surprise abdication would come the following year.

However, all eyes were on Sofia and her daughter-in-law as the family left the cathedral.

spanish royals easter mass 2018© Photo: Getty Images

The family photographed after Easter Mass in 2018 - moments after the public clash

Sofia, a doting grandmother, seemed to be preparing to have her photo taken with Leonor and Sofia when Letizia seemingly moved to block the shot.

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So stood directly between the trio and the cameras and was seen removing Sofia's hand from Infanta Sofia’s shoulder. The two ladies then exchanged words before Felipe stepped in.

queen letizia mother© Photo: Getty Images

Letizia pictured with her mother, Paloma

The exact reason for their tense interaction is not known. It has been speculated that Sofia felt increasingly cut out of her granddaughter’s lives; Letizia's mother Paloma Rocasolano became a regular presence in the palace and was known to take care of the girls when their parents travelled.

Happily, in recent years, stylish Letizia and Sofia seem to have put aside their differences.

queen letizia queen sofia happy© Photo: Getty Images

Letizia and Sofia in August 2022 with Letizia's daughters

In August, they happily posed for photos together during the family's annual summer holiday in Palma de Mallorca, with Sofia smiling as she sweetly linked arms with daughter-in-law Letizia.

And then in January, Letizia was on hand to support Sofia at the funeral of her brother, King Constantine. It was during this visit to Athens that Queen Letizia also reunited with Crown Princess Marie-Chantal; the pair were thought to have fallen out over the Easter Mass video.


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