| PRINCESS Letizia of Asturias celebrated her 40th birthday yesterday with her family, and was given an official photo-shoot as a present by the Royal household.
The pictures feature the wife of Prince Felipe, first in line to the throne, with her husband and daughters in their home, looking relaxed and happy.
Described as very hard-working and sincere – but practised in keeping her emotions to herself in public and a very private person who makes every effort to protect her children from the limelight and give them a normal life – Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano was an ordinary civilian before she married into the royal family.
The 'Kate Middleton of Spain' was born on September 15, 1972 in the Asturian capital, Oviedo, to reporter Jesús Ortiz and his wife Paloma Rocasolano, the eldest of three daughters.
With a father and grandmother having followed media careers – the latter, Menchu Álvarez del Valle, was a broadcaster on Radio Asturias for 40 years – it seemed logical that the young Letizia would follow in their footsteps.
She studied journalism at university, including a stint in Guadalajara (México) and went on to become a news-reader and reporter for Spain's channel 1, TVE.
Divorced by her late 20s, Letizia began a relationship with Prince Felipe of Asturias, but kept the identity of her new boyfriend even from her friends.
When pressed whether marriage was on the cards and whom her husband would be, Letizia reportedly told them, “don't worry, there's no way you won't find out.”
They tied the knot on May 22, 2004 – an historic moment for the Royal family, being a divorcée and a complete outsider – and their first child, Leonor, was born in the autumn of 2005.
Their second daughter, Sofía – named after the queen, whom Letizia considers a great inspiration and is very close to – followed in the spring of 2007.
Tragedy hit the Princess' family around the same time, when her younger sister, Erika, committed suicide at the age of 31.
But despite fears that she would crack and be unable to adapt to her Royal role, Letizia hit the ground running as soon as she was married and took to her new situation like a duck to water.
Here at www.thinkspain.com, we should like to wish Princess Letizia all the best on her 40th birthday and for life in her fifth decade.