Felipe VI ( born 30 January 1968) is the King of Spain. He ascended to the throne on 19 June 2014 following the abdication of his father, King Juan Carlos I. He is the only son of Juan Carlos and his wife Sofía of Greece and Denmark. When Juan Carlos was chosen in 1969 to be Francisco Franco’s successor, Felipe became second in line to the Spanish throne. Felipe became heir apparent when Juan Carlos succeeded Franco as head of state following his death in 1975. He was created Prince of Asturias in 1977, the traditional title for the first in line.
As Prince of Asturias, he worked to support philanthropic causes and to promote international fellowship among Spanish-speaking countries. In 2004, Felipe married TV presenter Letizia Ortiz with whom he has two daughters. Leonor, the elder, is his heir presumptive. He succeeded his father as King of Spain when when he abdicated in 2014. In accordance with. the Spanish Constitution, as monarch, he is head of state and commander-in-chief of the Spanish Armed Forces, and also plays a role in promoting relations with Hispanic America, the “nations of its historical community”.
Felipe was born in Madrid at the Nuestra Señora de Loreto Clinic, the third child and only son of Infante Juan Carlos of Spain and Princess Sofía of Greece and Denmark. He was baptised on 8 February 1968 at the Palace of Zarzuela by the Archbishop of Madrid, Casimiro Morcillo. His full baptismal name, Felipe Juan Pablo Alfonso de Todos los Santos, consists of the names of the first Bourbon King of Spain (Philip V), his grandfathers (Infante Juan of Spain and King Paul of Greece), his great-grandfather King Alfonso XIII of Spain, and de Todos los Santos as is customary among the Bourbons. His godparents were his paternal grandfather Juan and his paternal great-grandmother, Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain. Shortly after his birth he was styled infante, although his father was not yet king. The ruling dictator General Francisco Franco died just over two months before Felipe’s eighth birthday, and Felipe’s father ascended the throne. In his first official appearance, Felipe attended his father’s proclamation as king on 22 November 1975.
In 1977, Felipe was formally created Prince of Asturias. In May, nine-year-old Felipe was made an honorary soldier of the 1st King’s Immemorial Infantry Regiment. The occasion was marked on 28 May and was attended by the king, the prime minister and several other ministers in a ceremony at the infantry’s barracks. On 1 November the same year, he was ceremoniously paid homage as Prince of Asturias in Covadonga. In 1981 Felipe received the Collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece from his father, the Chief and Sovereign of the Order. On his 18th birthday on 30 January 1986, Felipe swore allegiance to the Constitution and to the King in the Spanish Parliament as required by the constitution, fully accepting his role as successor to the Crown.
Felipe attended school at Santa María de los Rosales, which his daughters currently attend. Felipe attended high school at Lakefield College School in Ontario, Canada, and studied at the Autonomous University of Madrid, where he graduated with a degree in Law; he also completed several courses in Economics. He completed his academic studies by obtaining a Master of Science in Foreign Service degree from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, where he was the roommate of his cousin, Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece.
As the heir to the throne, a carefully regulated and structured plan was laid out for Felipe’s military training. In August 1985, a Royal Decree named Felipe as officer at the General Military Academy in Zaragoza. He began his military training there in September. He completed the first phase of his formation in October. In July 1986, he was promoted to Cadet 2nd Lieutenant. He was also named as Midshipman. On September 1986, he began his naval training at the Escuela Naval Militar in Pontevedra, joining the Third Brigade. In January 1987, he continued his naval training on board the training ship Juan Sebastián Elcano. In July, he was named as Student Ensign at the Academia General del Aire in Murcia. In September 1987, he began his air force training there. where he learned to fly aircraft. In 1989, he was promoted to Lieutenant in the Army, Ensign in the Navy, and Lieutenant in the Air Force. In 1992, he was promoted to Captain in the Air Force. In 1993, he was promoted to Lieutenant in the Navy and Captain in the Infantry of the Army. In 1999, a law was passed regulating his military career.
Further promotions in 2000 were Commandant in the Army, Corvette Captain in the Navy, and Commandant in the Air Force. Promotions in 2009 were Lieutenant Colonel in the Army, Frigate Captain in the Navy, and Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force.
Since June 19, 2014, after his ascension to the throne, he acquired the rank of Capitán General (Commander-in-chief) of all the Spanish armies (Land, Navy and Air Force).
Felipe undertook his constitutional duties assiduously as heir to the throne, hosting many official events in Spain and participating in all events of different sectors and aspects of Spanish public life as required. Since October 1995, Felipe has represented Spain on a series of official visits to the Spanish Autonomous Communities, starting with Valencia, during which he made contact with Spaniards from all walks of life. Felipe has held regular meetings with constitutional bodies and state institutions keeping up-to-date with their activities. He also attends meetings of the various bodies of the Central Administration and of the Autonomous Communities as required by his national and international constitutional obligations. Felipe has welcomed as many public and private audiences as possible to maintain Crown interaction in national and international affairs. In particular, he has held meetings with people of his generation who have built successful careers in political, economic, cultural and media circles. As part of his military training, Felipe trained as a military helicopter pilot. On occasions when King Juan Carlos was unable to attend, Felipe presided over the annual presentation of dispatches to officers and non-commissioned officers in the Armed Forces as well as participating in military exercises held by the three Armed Services.
Felipe has made many official visits to Europe and Latin America, as well as to countries in the Arab World, the Far East, and Australia, maintaining a special interest in all matters relating to the European Union, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa. Since January 1996, Felipe has represented the Spanish State at many Latin American presidents’ inauguration ceremonies. As Prince, he visited every country in Latin America except Cuba, and made over 200 foreign trips in total. Felipe has also played a very active role in promoting Spain’s economic, commercial and cultural interests and the Spanish language abroad. He frequently represents Spain at world economic and trade events (e.g. Expotecnia, Expoconsumo, and Expohabitat), and is especially interested in promoting the creation of Centres and University Chairs to advance the study of Spain both historically and in the present-day at major foreign universities.
Following the 11 March 2004 Madrid bombings, Felipe, along with his sisters Elena and Cristina, took part in a public demonstration.
Felipe speaks Spanish, Catalan, French, English and some Greek.
In addition to his official activities, Felipe serves as Honorary President of several associations and foundations, such as the Imperial Munitions Board, which finances economic and social development in Ibero-America and other countries, and the Spanish branch of the Association of European Journalists, comprising outstanding communications professionals. Most noteworthy is the Príncipe de Asturias Foundation, where he presides annually at the international awards ceremony of the highly prestigious Prince of Asturias Awards bearing his name.
Felipe was appointed a “UN-Eminent Person” by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in 2001, during its International Year of Volunteers, and continues to make contributions internationally towards enhancing the importance of voluntary work.
Felipe was a member of the Spanish Olympic sailing team at the Barcelona Games in 1992. Felipe took part in the opening ceremony as the Spanish team’s flag bearer. The Spanish crew finished in sixth place in the Soling class and obtained an Olympic diploma.
Felipe has been a supporter of Atlético Madrid since watching them win the 1976 Copa del Generalísimo Final.
Felipe, himself 197 cm (6 ft 5 1⁄2 in) in height, has attended Spanish, European, and Olympic basketball championships.
Both his mother and uncle were on the Greek sailing team at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome (his mother as a substitute), and Felipe’s father and sister were also Olympic sailors for Spain.
On 2 June 2014, King Juan Carlos announced his intent to abdicate in Felipe’s favour. Since the Constitution of Spain did not provide a specific mechanism for abdication and royal succession, the Spanish Cabinet began deliberations on an organic law to regulate Felipe’s succession on 3 June. The law had to be passed by a majority of all members of the Congress of Deputies, the lower house of the Cortes Generales (Parliament). According to Jesús Posada, the President of the Congress of Deputies, Felipe could have been proclaimed king as early as 18 June. On 4 June, El País of Madrid reported that Felipe would indeed be proclaimed king on 18 June.
Felipe ascended the throne at the stroke of midnight on 19 June; his father had signed the formal instrument of abdication just hours earlier. The next morning, after receiving the general’s sash from his father, he was formally enthroned in a low-key ceremony held in the Cortes. He swore to uphold the Constitution before formally being proclaimed king by Posada. Upon his accession, he became the youngest monarch in Europe, being nine months younger than King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands.
As king, Felipe has fairly extensive reserve powers on paper. He is the guardian of the Constitution, responsible for ensuring it is obeyed. While he is nominally chief executive, it is expected that he will follow his father’s practice of taking a mostly ceremonial and representative role, acting largely on the advice of the government. He indicated as much in a speech to the Cortes on the day of his enthronement, saying that he would be “a loyal head of state who is ready to listen and understand, warn and advise as well as to defend the public interest at all times”. A poll conducted by El País, however, indicates that a majority of Spaniards wish that Felipe play a greater role in politics, with 75% of the 600 surveyed people stating that they would approve if he personally pushed the political parties to reach agreements on national problems. According to an El Mundo newspaper poll, Felipe had a greater approval than his father prior to his reign.
In June 2014, Felipe and Letizia became the first Spanish monarch and consort to receive and recognize LGBT organisations at the Palace. Felipe also changed the protocol in order to allow people to take the oath of office without a crucifix or Bible. In their first overseas trip as monarchs, Felipe VI and Queen Letizia met Pope Francis on 30 June 2014, in the Apostolic Palace. They subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Mgsr. Antoine Camilleri, under-secretary for Relations with States. The visit followed one by King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofía on 28 April.
In February 2015, Felipe announced that he would cut his annual salary by 20% as a result of the economic recession and hardships continuing to hamper Spain.
In March 2016, leaked texted messages between Queen Letizia and businessman Javier Lopez Madrid, created a furore. Together with other executives and board members of the Caja Madrid and Bankia financial group, Madrid had been accused of corruption. In October 2014, Letizia pledged her support for him, texting “We know who you are and you know who we are. We know each other, like each other, respect each other. To hell with the rest. Kisses yoga mate (miss you!!!)”. Felipe also joined in, texting “We do indeed!” Publication of the texts by the newspaper El Diario threatened to undo the line Felipe had drawn between himself and the scandal of Princess Cristina and her husband, as well as questions over the origins of ex-King Juan Carlos’s private fortune. A palace official subsequently stated that the King and Queen were no longer friends with Madrid due to his legal issues.
The elections in 2015 resulted in no party winning enough seats to form a government. No agreements with the different parties were successful. After months of talks with the different party leaders, and with there being no apparent candidate in a position of support in forming a government, a royal decree was issued dissolving parliament with new elections being called in June. This marked the first time since the transition to democracy that an election was called under Article 99.5 of the Constitution, wherein the initiative for issuing the dissolution of the Cortes belonged to the King and not to the Prime Minister.
Felipe’s bachelor years were a source of interest to the Spanish press for several years. His name was linked with several eligible women, but only two notable girlfriends: Spanish noblewoman Isabel Sartorius, around 1989 to 1991, daughter of Vicente Sartorius y Cabeza de Vaca, who was viewed unfavourably by the Royal Family due to her mother’s cocaine addiction, and Norwegian model Eva Sannum, who modelled underwear. When Felipe finally began a serious relationship, nothing was suspected before the official announcement of the Prince’s engagement on 1 November 2003 to Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano, an award-winning television journalist formerly with CNN who had been married previously. The couple were married on the morning of 22 May 2004 in the Almudena Cathedral, Madrid, with representatives of royal families from all over the world and most heads of state from Latin America present.
Felipe and Letizia have two daughters: Leonor, Princess of Asturias, born on 31 October 2005, and Infanta Sofía, born on 29 April 2007.