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Queen Letizia makes history as she breaks tradition in royal household

It's all change for King Felipe and Queen Letizia in the Spanish royal household

Queen Letizia wearing green blouse
Danielle Stacey
Online Royal CorrespondentLondon
8 April 2024
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There's set to be big changes within the Spanish royal household. For the first time ever in history, there will be a woman at the head of the Queen's Secretariat, as it has been confirmed that María Dolores Ocaña Madrid, a state lawyer, has been hired as Queen Letizia's right-hand woman.

María, 51, is currently Chief State Attorney at the Ministry of Education but will replace José Manuel Zuleta, Duke of Abrantes, who has been in the role for the past decade. She was previously pictured with the queen at the Inauguration of the World Healthy Food Centre, Valencia in 2019. María's appointment to the role will officially begin on 30 April.

Meanwhile, José, 63, is the son of José Manuel de Zuleta de Reales y Carvajal, 13th Duke of Abrantes and Virginia Alejandro y García. He joined the General Military Academy in 1979, graduating with the rank of lieutenant in 1984. José first began working for the royal household in the mid-1990s and joined then Prince Felipe's office in 2007 to assist then Princess Letizia.

Queen Letizia with María Dolores Ocaña Madrid in 2019© Miguel Cordoba/SIPA/Shutterstock
Queen Letizia with María Dolores Ocaña Madrid (left) in 2019

Shortly after Felipe became king in 2014, José was appointed head of Queen Letizia's Secretariat. He shares four daughters with his wife, Ana Pérez de Guzmán y Lizasoain.

It comes after Camilo Villarino became head of the royal household in January, following the departure of King Felipe's long-time private secretary after 30 years.

It's a milestone year for King Felipe and Queen Letizia as they prepare to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary on 22 May and the tenth anniversary of Felipe's accession to the throne on 19 June.

Felipe and Letizia have two daughters – Princess Leonor, 18, who is in the middle of her military training and Infanta Sofia, 16, who is studying for her International Baccalaureate at UWC Atlantic College in Wales.

After enjoying the Easter break in Madrid as a family, King Felipe and Queen Letizia resumed their royal duties last week. Letizia looked incredible in a pair of red leather trousers and a white blouse as she and her husband attended the National Sports Awards 2022 at the Royal Palace of El Pardo last Thursday.

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