Spanish Royal Family

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The Spanish Royal Family consists of the present king, the queen consort, their children with spouses and their grandchildren. The Spanish royal family belongs to the House of Bourbon. The membership of the Royal Family is defined by royal decree and consists of: the King of Spain, the monarch's spouse, the monarch's parents and their children, and the heir to the Spanish throne.[1] Therefore, insofar as they are spouses or widow/widower of the monarch's children, Letizia Ortiz and Iñaki Urdangarin are also members of the Spanish Royal Family.[2]

The Spanish Royal Family should not be confused with the Family of the King, which refers to the extended family of the monarch.

Titles and styles[edit]

The titles and styles of the Royal Family are as follows:[3]

Current members of the Royal Family[edit]

Extended family (the Family of the King)[edit]

The King's sisters and brother-in-law[edit]

The King's two sisters renounced their rights of succession upon marriage, but those renunciations took place before the adoption of the Constitution and were not ratified by the Cortes.

Both sisters bear the title Infanta of Spain with the style Her Royal Highness. Their children have the right to the status of Grandee and the style of Excellency, as do the children of Infanta Elena and Infanta Cristina.

House of Bourbon-Two Sicilies[edit]

HRH Don Carlos Maria Alfonso Marcel de Borbón-Dos Sicilias y Borbón-Parma, Infante of Spain, Prince of the two Sicilies, Duke of Calabria (born 1938), cousin of the King, received the title Infante of Spain by Royal Decree 2412 dated December 16, 1994.[4] Although it is often stated that this title was given in recognition of Don Carlos' status as head of the House of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, the wording of the decree does not support that view. The King refers to "Las circunstancias excepcionales que concurren" (the exceptional circumstances that concur) in Don Carlos. The reference is to circumstances, not a single circumstance. The decree then cites Don Carlos' representation of the ties between his family and the Spanish Crown as one of those circumstances. Although Don Carlos claims to be the rightful heir to the defunct crown of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, his position is disputed. Don Carlos is also the senior heir of Infanta Doña Mercedes, Princess of Asturias, the eldest sister of King Alphonso XIII of Spain who was heiress presumptive to the throne for her entire life. (Alphonso XIII was born months after his father's death; if he had been a girl Maria de las Mercedes would have become queen regnant.

The title was not extended to Don Carlos' wife who was born Anne Marguerite Brigitte Marie d'Orléans, Fille de France, Princess of Orléans, a member of the French Royal House. Their children would ordinarily have the status of grandee with the style of Excellency but instead generally use the title Prince(ss) of Bourbon-Two Sicilies based on their father's descent from the former kings of the Two Sicilies, although his wife is officially styled Her Royal Highness Princess Anne of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, Duchess of Calabria.

From 1936 Don Carlos' mother Princess Alicia of Bourbon-Parma is infanta of Spain by marriage to Infante Alfonso (30 November 1901 - 3 February 1964), eldest child and son of Prince Carlos of Bourbon-Two Sicilies and his wife Mercedes, Princess of Asturias.

Current accession to throne[edit]

In 1969,[5] General Franco designated Juan Carlos De Borbon, Prince of Spain as his successor as official leader of Spain with the restored title of king. By 1973, Franco had surrendered the function of prime minister (Presidente del Gobierno), remaining only as head of state and commander in chief of the military.

As his final years progressed, tension within the various factions of the Movimiento would consume Spanish political life, as varying groups jockeyed for position to control the country's future. In July 1974, the aged Franco fell ill from various health problems, and Juan Carlos took over as Head of State. Franco soon recovered, but one year later he fell ill once again from more health problems including a long battle with Parkinson's Disease. Franco died on 20 November 1975 and Juan Carlos became King.

The king and queen[edit]

As a young man Juan Carlos completed his four-year military training and then received a rigorous two year liberal education in the European tradition as insisted upon by his father Don Juan, Count of Barcelona, in 1957.[6][7] Impatient with the pace of democratic political reforms, King Juan Carlos, known for his formidable personality, dismissed Carlos Arias Navarro and appointed the reformer Adolfo Suárez as President of the Government in 1977.[8][9]

The next year the king signed into law the new liberal democratic Constitution of Spain, which was approved by 88% of voters. Juan Carlos’ "quick wit and steady nerve" cut short the attempted military coup in 1981 when the king used a specially designed command communications center in the Zarzuela Palace to denounce the coup and command the military's eleven captain-generals to stand down.[7]

Following the events of 1981 Juan Carlos has led a less eventful life, according to author John Hooper.[7] The king does not open hospitals and bridges as often as monarchs in other nations; rather he has worked towards establishing reliable political customs when transitioning one government administration to another, emphasizing constitutional law and protocol, representing the Spanish State domestically and internationally, all the while maintaining a professionally non-partisan yet independent monarchy.[7] In 2007 while celebrating his anniversary, the king said he wanted to represent all Spanish people.

Juan Carlos set a modest tone for his kingship as early as 1975 when he declared that he and his family would continue to reside at the modest Palacio de Zarzuela, rather than the Palacio de Oriente in Madrid.[7] Additionally, the king, who can still look awkward at large events, did not resurrect any formal ‘Royal Court’, much to the disappointment of some in the aristocracy.[7] The king's charms are best evident in smaller and less formal events, according to Hooper.[7]

Juan Carlos, publicly perceived as a kind of action man or G.I. Joe,[9] is fond of sports and enjoys skiing in winter and sailing in the summer, and likes to play snooker after dinner.[7] Such is the king's enthusiasm for sailing that he competed in the 1972 Summer Olympic Games in the Dragon Class, and each year he and the royal family holiday in Majorca where they are photographed sailing by the media.[7] It is this image of the king enjoying himself that is somewhat instilled in the public mind in recent years, according to Hooper. In his younger years Juan Carlos enjoyed and was reportedly good at squash, tennis, and karate. However, the king has angered environmental activists when he engaged in bear hunting in Romania in 2004.[7]

Queen Sofía, on the other hand, is opposed to the wearing of furs and of bullfighting, and is "something of a vegetarian", according to author John Hooper.[7] Born in 1938 a Princess of Greece and Denmark, Sofía enjoys sailing—a passion she shares with her husband.[7] As a young woman Sofía qualified as a reserve for the Greek sailing team at the 1960 Summer Olympics.[7] Initially their shared passion for sailing threatened to stifle their relationship as Sofía later recalled "I once went sailing with him when we were still engaged, and I shall never understand how I was able to marry him after that!"[7] Juan Carlos married Sofía in Athens at the Church of Saint Dennis on 14 May 1962.

Exile is another experience which had bonded Sofía and Juan Carlos, according to Hooper. Sofía and the Greek Royal Family went into exile in South Africa ahead of the Nazi invasion of Greece, and she and her family did not return to Greece until she was eight. Of Juan Carlos and Sofía's shared experiences in exile John Hooper wrote "Both the King and Queen were given a lesson in their early years that no member of the British Royal Family received—that, for a monarch, the penalty for failing to judge correctly the mood of his or her country, can be exile and debilitating irrelevance."[7]

The queen's interests over the years have been more intellectual, and Sofía may be given credit for encouraging Juan Carlos in his transition of Spain from an authoritarian dictatorship to a liberal democracy.[7] According to author John Hooper, it is noteworthy that shortly after Juan Carlos married Sofía he began his secret meetings with ‘politicians and others’ as early as 1963.[7] Sofía demonstrated her empathy and solidarity with Spanish families when she sent her children to secular schools known for their progressive methods.[7] When the parents at Felipe's school boycotted the increase in meal prices, Sofía took the side of the parents, sending Felipe to school with sandwiches in packed lunches.[7]

Sofía is far more religious then her husband or her children, having converted to Catholicism just before her marriage.[7] Queen Sofía sparked controversy in a 2008 autobiography when she commented on gay marriage in Spain.[10][11][12][13][14][15][16] This and other comments by the queen opened the monarchy to rare criticism in 2008, with the Zarzuela palace issuing an apology on behalf of the queen for the "inexact" quotes attributed to her.[10][12][17] King Juan Carlos, known to be far more liberal then his wife, was reportedly incensed by the autobiography, with reporters stating the king will fire palace officials who allegedly approved official royal endorsement of the book.[10]

Other members[edit]

The king's heir is his youngest child Felipe, Prince of Asturias (b. 1968), who married Letizia, Princess of Asturias (b. 1972) on 22 May 2004 in the Cathedral Santa María la Real de la Almudena in Madrid. The Prince and Princess of Asturias have two daughters, TRH the Infantas Leonor (b. 2005) and Sofía (b. 2007). å HRH Infanta Elena, Duchess of Lugo, (b. 1963) is the king's eldest child and mother of two with Jaime de Marichalar, Their Excellencies Felipe Juan (b. 1998) and Victoria Federica (b. 2000). Infanta Elena and Jaime de Marichalar got divorced in 2009.[18]

HRH Infanta Cristina, Duchess of Palma de Mallorca, (b 1965) is the king's middle child and mother of three boys and a daughter with Iñaki Urdangarín, Duke of Palma de Mallorca, Their Excellencies Juan Valentín (b. 1999), Pablo Nicolás (b. 2000), Miguel (b. 2002), and Her Excellency Irene (b. 2005).

The king has two sisters: HRH Infanta Doña Pilar de Borbón, Duchess of Badajoz (b. 1936) and mother of five, and HRH Infanta Doña Margarita de Borbón, Duchess of Soria, 2nd Duchess of Hernani (b. 1939) and mother of two with HE Carlos Zurita, Duke of Soria (b. 1943). However, both sisters renounced any claim to the Spanish Crown before their marriage and before the 1978 Constitution was ratified. If the heirs of King Juan Carlos I were to expire, the 1978 Constitution reserves the right for the Cortes to designate the successor branch in a manner suitable for Spain, and presumably the Cortes would consider the claims of these heirs.

Public role[edit]

Members of the Spanish Royal Family, "the royals", are often asked by non-profit charitable, cultural, or religious organizations within Spain or internationally to become their patrons, a role the Spanish constitution recognizes and codified in Title II Article 62 (j) It is incumbent for the monarch "to exercise the High Patronage of the Royal Academies".[19] Royal patronage conveys a sense of official credibility as the organization is scrutinized for suitability. A royal presence often greatly raises the profile of the organization and attracts media publicity and public interest that the organization may not have otherwise garnered, aiding in the charitable cause or cultural event. Royals use their considerable celebrity to assist the organization to raise funds or to affect or promote government policy.

Additionally, members of the royal family may also pursue their own charitable and cultural interests. Queen Sofía devotes much of her time to the Queen Sofia Foundation (Fundación Reina Sofía);[20] while Prince Felipe chairs the Prince of Asturias Foundation (Fundación Príncipe de Asturias), which aims to promote "scientific, cultural and humanistic values that form part of mankind's universal heritage."[21]

The Prince of Asturias Foundation holds annual awards ceremonies acknowledging the contributions of individuals, entities, and/or organizations from around the world who make notable achievements in the sciences, humanities, or public affairs. Prince Felipe serves as president of the Codespa Foundation, which finances specific economic and social development activities in Latin American and other countries, and serves as president of the Spanish branch of the Association of European Journalists, which is composed of achieving communications professionals.[22] Prince Felipe also serves as honorary chair of the Ministry of Culture National Awards Ceremonies.[23]

Infanta Elena, Duchess of Lugo, the king's eldest daughter, is the Director of Cultural and Social Projects of Mapfre Foundation,[24] while Infanta Cristina, Duchess of Palma de Mallorca, the king's youngest daughter, served as the Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations for the 2nd World Assembly on Ageing, and is a member of the Dali Foundation Board of Trustees, president of the International Foundation for Disabled Sailing, and Director of Social Welfare at the La Caixa Foundation in Barcelona where she lives with her family.[25]

The king, queen, and Infanta Cristina are all members of the Bilderberg Group, an informal think-tank centered on United States and European relations, and other world issues.[26][27][28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Real Decreto 2917/1981, de 27 de noviembre, sobre Registro Civil de la Familia Real - website Noticias Juridicas
  2. ^ The Royal Family - Official site of the Royal Household of HM the King
  3. ^ Royal Decree 1368/1987, dated 6 November, regulating titles, forms of address and honours pertaining to the Royal Family and to the Regents - Official site of the Royal Household of HM the King
  4. ^ Real Decreto 2412/1994
  5. ^ Coloquio, Hispanic News and Culture magazine
  6. ^ Juan Carlos was born in 1938 while the royal family was then in exile during the Second Spanish Republic and Civil War which followed, but returned to Spain for his education in 1948. By 1957 Juan Carlos completed his formal military training, two years in the army collage in Saragossa and a year each in the navy and the air force. Juan Carlos’ father insisted on a liberal academic university education for his son, and a panel of six eminent academics drafted a special two-year course in liberal studies that Juan Carlos received in Madrid between 1958 and 1960. After his university education, Juan Carlos spent a few weeks in each of the government ministries to learn how they operated, and in 1969 Franco designated Juan Carlos as his successor, with the Cortes overwhelmingly endorsing the appointment. To drive home the point that Juan Carlos was Franco's successor, according to author John Hooper, Juan Carlos received the title ‘Prince of Spain’ rather than the traditional ‘Prince of Asturias’
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t John Hooper, The New Spainards, 2001, An Engaging Monarchy
  8. ^ John Hooper, The New Spainards, 2001, From Dictatorship to Democracy
  9. ^ a b "Spain's fast-living king turns 70)". BBC News. 2008-01-04. Retrieved 2009-06-18. 
  10. ^ a b c Burnett, Victoria (2008-11-27). "Queen Sofia Unamused by a Book Quoting Her". Retrieved 2009-11-16. 
  11. ^ "Queen of Spain's Gay Marriage Comment Ignites Controversy". 2008-10-31. 
  12. ^ a b "Queen's outburst sparks debate about the monarchy in Spain". 2008-11-03. 
  13. ^ NewsEditor (2008-11-01). "Spain's queen criticized for anti-gay comments". Retrieved 2009-11-16. 
  14. ^ "Spanish Queen alone in anti-gay comments". Dutch News. 2008-10-31. Retrieved 2009-11-16. 
  15. ^ Rhodes, Matt (2008-08-31). "Spain: Gay Anger Over Spanish Queen Book". Retrieved 2009-11-16. 
  16. ^ Giles, Ciaran (2008-11-01). "Spain: Gay marriage bill clears hurdle". Archived from the original on 2006-01-05. Retrieved 2006-12-22. 
  17. ^ Morris and Larraz, Sarah and Theresa (2008-10-31). "Queen draws ire over gay marriage comment". Retrieved 2009-11-16. 
  18. ^ ""La Infanta Elena y Jaime de Marichalar firman el convenio de su divorcio" ("Infanta Elena and Jaime de Marichalar sign their divorce papers")" (in Spanish). El periódico. 2009-11-25. Retrieved 2010-02-06. [dead link]
  19. ^ Constitución española de 1978 Título II. De la Corona
  20. ^ Queen Sofia Foundation
  21. ^ Prince of Asturias Foundation
  22. ^ Codespa Foundation
  23. ^ Delivery of the National Awards of the Ministry of Culture 2008
  24. ^ Infanta Elena
  25. ^ Infanta Cristina
  26. ^ Mark Oliver (4 June 2004). "The Bilderberg group". The Guardian. 
  27. ^ "Bilderberg Meeting of 1997 Assembles". PR Newswire. 13 June 1997. 
  28. ^ "Bilderberg Group Meets In Athens Amid Tight Security". NASDAQ.