by Susan Flantzer
King Felipe VI of Spain was born at the Nuestra Señora de Loreto Clinic in Madrid, Spain on January 30, 1968. He is the only son and third child of King Juan Carlos of Spain and his wife, Queen Sofia, born Princess Sophia of Greece. King Felipe has two older sisters: Infanta Elena (born 1963) and Infanta Cristina (born 1965). At the time of King Felipe’s birth, Spain was ruled by the dictator General Francisco Franco and his father had no official title or position in Spain. However, King Felipe was registered in the Civil Registry as Infante with the style of Royal Highness.
On February 8, 1968, Felipe was baptized at Zarzuela Palace by Monsignor Casimiro Morcillo, Archbishop of Madrid. His godparents were his paternal grandfather Infante Juan, Count of Barcelona and his paternal great-grandmother and the widow of King Alfonso XIII of Spain, Queen Victoria Eugenia (a granddaughter of Queen Victoria) who returned to Spain for the first time since she and her husband were exiled in 1931. General Francisco Franco also attended the baptism.
Felipe was baptized with the following names:
- Felipe: in honor of his ancestor King Felipe V, the first Bourbon who reigned in Spain
- Juan: in honor of his paternal grandfather Infante Juan, Count of Barcelona
- Pablo: in honor of his maternal grandfather, King Paul I of Greece
- Alfonso: in honor of great-grandfather King Alfonso XIII of Spain
- De Todos los Santos, (of All the Saints): continuing a Bourbon tradition
In 1969, General Franco recognized Juan Carlos as his successor and bestowed upon him the title of Prince of Spain. King Felipe then became second in the line of succession to the vacant throne. Juan Carlos became King of Spain in 1975 upon the death of General Franco. On January 22, 1977, King Felipe was formally created Prince of Asturias, the title traditionally held by the heir to the Spanish throne.
King Felipe attended Santa María de los Rosales School (link in Spanish) in Madrid, Spain until 1984, when he was 16. For his last year of secondary education, he attended Lakefield College School in Lakefield, Ontario, Canada. In 1985, King Felipe started his military education at the General Military Academy in Zaragoza, Spain and studied there for three years. From 1988 – 1993, he attended the Autónoma University of Madrid, where he graduated with a degree in law. King Felipe obtained a Master’s Degree in International Relations at the Edmund Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington, DC where he studied from 1993 – 1995 and was a roommate of his first cousin Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece.
In 1992, King Felipe was a member of the Spanish Olympic Sailing Team at the Barcelona Summer Olympics. He was the flag bearer at the Opening Ceremonies and his Soling Class sailing team finished in sixth place.
On November 1, 2003, to the surprise of many, Felipe’s engagement to Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano, a journalist and television news reporter and anchor, was announced. The couple was married on May 22, 2004 at the Santa María la Real de La Almudena Cathedral in Madrid, Spain.
King Felipe and Queen Letizia have two daughters:
- The Princess of Asturias (Leonor de Todos los Santos de Borbón Ortiz), born October 31, 2005 at the Ruber International Clinic in Madrid, Spain
- Infanta Sofía (Sofía de Todos los Santos de Borbón Ortiz), born on April 29, 2007 at the Ruber International Clinic in Madrid, Spain
On June 2, 2014, King Juan Carlos, Felipe’s father, announced his intention to abdicate the throne in favor of his son. On June 18, 2014, King Juan Carlos signed the formal instrument of abdication and Felipe ascended the throne at midnight. King Felipe VI was sworn in and proclaimed as king on June 19, 2014 in a ceremony in the Congress of Deputies, the lower house of the Spanish legislature.
Unofficial Royalty: King Felipe’s Proclamation Ceremony
Unofficial Royalty: King Felipe VI accedes to the throne of Spain
Read more about the Spanish Royal Family here!