Felipe VI ascended the throne on 19 June 2014 when his father King Juan Carlos I abdicated and made his first state visit to Great Britain in 2017. Did you know he also competed at the Barcelona Olympic Games in 1992?

Find out more about King Felipe who celebrates his birthday on 30 January.

King Felipe delivers his Christmas Message in 2017. Photo: Casa de SM el Rey

Early Life

King Felipe VI of Bourbon and Greece was born on 30 January 1968 at Nuestra Señora de Loreto (Our Lady of Loreta Clinic) in Madrid, the only son and third child of King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sophia.

King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia, with their two daughters Elna and Cristina and a baby Prince Felipe, Madrid, 8 February 1968.

He has two older sisters, Elena Duchess of Logo (born 20 December 1963) and Infanta Cristina (born 13 June 1965).

Archbishop of Madrid, Casimiro Marcello baptised Felipe 8 February 1968 at the Palace of Zarzuela.

He was christened Felipe Juan Pablo Alfonso de Todos los Santos in memory of the first Bourbon King to reign in Spain (Felipe V), his paternal grandfathers (Infante Juan Count of Barcelona and King Paul of Greece), and his great-grandfather, King Alfonso XIII.

Felipe’s godparents were his grandfather, Infante Juan and his great-grandmother Queen Victoria Eugenie.

Spain was ruled by a dictator Generalissimo Francisco Franco who named Juan Carlos as his successor in 1969, so Felipe became second in line to the Spanish throne.

Franco died on 20 November 1975 so Juan Carlos finally became King since the monarchy was abolished in 1931.

Felipe’s attended his first official engagement at his father’s proclamation on 22 November 1975.

In 1977, as heir to the throne, Felipe was formally created Prince of Asturias and made an honorary soldier of the 1st King’s Immemorial Infantry Regiment.

His father King Juan Carlos bestowed the Collar of the Distinguished Order of the Golden Fleece in 1981.

Education

He first attended school at Santa María de los Rosales during his pre-school, primary and high school years until 1984, before he spent the final year at Lakefield College School in Ontario.

Three generations: King Juan Carlos, Felipe Prince of Asturias and Infanta Leonor, Palace of La Zarzuela. Madrid, 14 January 2006

As heir to the throne, Felipe trained at the General Military Academy of Zaragoza from September 1985 until July 1988, before continuing at the Military Naval School in Marín and at the General Air Force Academy in San Javier. He was granted commissions of Infantry Lieutenant, Navy Sub-Lieutenant and Air Force Lieutenant. Felipe earned his Helicopter Pilot Wings from the Army and the Navy.

From October 1988 to June 1993, he continued his studies at the Autonomous University of Madrid, completing several courses in Economics and graduating with a law degree.

Felipe graduated with a Master’s Degree in International Relations at the Edmund A Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington DC on 26 May 1995.

Further studies include a refresher course in Security and Defence from September 1999 to June 2000.

Olympic Athlete

Felipe was Spain’s flag bearer during the Parade of Nations during the Opening Ceremony at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games.

Prince Felipe representing his country at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games.

He was a member of Spain’s Olympic Sailing team in the Soling class at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. The Spanish crew finished in sixth place and obtained an Olympic diploma.

However, Felipe hasn’t been the only member of the Spanish Royal Family to compete at the Olympic Games. Both his mother and uncle, King Constantine II of Greece, were on the Greek sailing team at the 1960 Summer Olympic Games in Rome. His father, Juan Carlos, and his two older sisters also represented Spain in past Olympic Games.

Royal Wedding

King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia announced Felipe’s engagement to award-winning television journalist Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano on 1 November 2003.

Felipe Prince of Asturias married Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano on 22 May 2004.

The religious wedding ceremony was held at the Santa María la Real de la Amudena Cathedral in Madrid on 22 May 2004.

They have two daughters, the heir-presumptive Leonor Princess of Asturias (born 31 October 2005) and Sofía, Infanta of Spain (born 29 April 2007). Both princesses attend their father’s old school, Santa María de los Rosales.

King Felipe VI, Queen Letizia and their daughters (left) Princess Sofia and Leonor, Princess of Asturias (right). Source: Facebook/Casa de SM el Rey

King of Spain

King Juan Carlos accounted his intention to abdicate 2 June 2014, in Felipe’s favour. However, he sanctioned the preceptive organic the law which was passed in the Cortes Generales (Parliament).

Handing over the reign. King Juan Carlos embraces King Felipe after abdicating. Photo: Casa de SM el Rey / Borja Photographers

However, Felipe ascended the throne at midnight on 19 June, once his father’s abdication came into effect.

On 19 June 2014, Felipe was formally sworn in, after taking the Oath, and proclaimed King before the Cortes, taking the name Felipe VI.

King Felipe holds the highest military rank of Captain General of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, as supreme commander.

Family Ties During UK State Visit

Last year, King Felipe and Queen Letizia made a state visit to Great Britain in July after two postponements due to elections in both countries.

King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia with Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh upon their arrival at Buckingham Palace, London, 12 July 2017. Photo: Casa de SM el Rey

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh greeted King Felipe and Queen Letizia in a traditional welcoming ceremony at Horse Guards Parade.

The Queen gifted Felipe copies of love-letters from his great-grandmother Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg, later known as Queen Ena, to his great-grandfather, who met in 1905 during a state visit.

Royal relative: Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain

Queen Ena was one of Queen Victoria of Great Britain’s granddaughters so King Felipe is related to Queen Elizabeth.

Eleanor of Castile, Edward I of England’s first wife.

Princess Victoria Eugenie married Alfonso in Madrid on 31 May 1906, with members of the British Royal Family, including her cousins King George V and Queen Mary attending the celebrations.

However, the celebrations were marred by an assassination attempt as the newlyweds rode in the procession back to the palace. Both Victoria Eugenie and Alfonso were spared but several bystanders were injured or killed.

King Felipe and Queen Letizia visited Westminster Abbey to lay a wreath at the Grave of the Unknown Soldier. Prince Harry joined them on a short tour of the abbey, including the Tomb of Eleanor of Castile, the 13th-Century Spanish Princess who married Edward I on 1 November 1254.

The visit finished with a gala banquet hosting by the Lord Mayor of London at the Guildhall.

King Felipe and Queen Letizia look at items in the Royal Collection with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh. Photo: Casa de SM el Rey

Read more about King Felipe’s Biography at http://www.casareal.es/EN/FamiliaReal/ReyFelipe/Paginas/biografia.aspx.

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