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Who Is Spain's New Queen? Letizia, A Former Journalist, Becomes Global Fashion Icon

Letizia Ortiz is Spain’s newly crowned “middle-class” queen. At 41, the former TV anchor is now the youngest monarch in Europe.

But who is Letizia Ortiz, really?

Ortiz is the oldest of three girls born to Jesus Alvarez and Maria Rodriguez in Oviedo, Spain.

Her grandfather was a taxi driver, but Ortiz followed more closely in her grandmother’s footsteps. Her grandmother was a radio broadcaster.

A modest beginning, however, never lessened Ortiz’s drive. 

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After moving to Madrid with her family, Ortiz attended the Complutense University of Madrid to complete her Bachelor’s Degree and Licentiate’s Degree in Science of the Information, in the branch of Journalism. She later received her Master’s Degree in Audiovisual Journalism at the Institute for Studies in Audiovisual Journalism.

Later Ortiz spent time in Mexico working at the newspaper Siglo XXI. She returned to Spain, where she reported and anchored for Bloomberg Television, CNN, and TVE.

As a journalist, Ortiz traveled internationally, covering breaking news. 

In 2000, she reported from Washington, D.C. on the presidential elections. 

Following the 9/11 attacks in September 2001, Ortiz broadcasted live from Ground Zero and later reported from Iraq following the war. 

In 2002, she worked from Galicia in northern Spain after the oil tanker Prestige sank. It was at the scene of the oil spill that Ortiz met then-Prince Felipe.

The couple dated discreetly until Ortiz quit her job, despite a recent promotion, and their engagement was announced.

Although the freshly announced King and Queen are now loved by the nation and seen as down-to-earth, their engagement was not completely scandal-free. Ortiz had been married for a year – a definite strike against Spain’s extremely conservative and Catholic monarchy. 

The Roman Catholic Church allowed the divorcee to remarry, nevertheless, given that she had only been married in a civil ceremony, which is not considered canonically valid in the church.

Following the marriage, rumors spread, including an alleged abortion, teenage drug use, and plastic surgery. 

Unfazed, Ortiz stood her ground, forging ahead with her duties as Spain’s princess.

Now, the new monarchs hope to usher in a new era of popularity to the royal throne. The new Queen Letizia is also known as something of a fashionista because of her elegant style. The New York Times even called her a "fashion icon."

"With her husband’s coronation, Letizia doesn’t just become queen, she becomes the equivalent of a global brand communication superhighway," The New York Times wrote. "In her role, and her wardrobe, lies the power to change a designer’s name recognition globally, which in turn changes retailers’ desire to stock said designer, which changes the designer’s business."

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