“Did you miss us?” Prince Felipe asked the press on return from his honeymoon with Letizia Ortiz - a trip that they cut short as, according to the new bride, “we were keen to come back and start work.” After the wedding of the century that kept the media busy for months, the couple have enjoyed a short break from the limelight, only to be plunged back into a hectic schedule that includes lighting the 2012 Olympic torch in Madrid. If we thought they had disappeared from the face of the earth after the huge wedding ceremony, which had us glued to our screens all day on Saturday, May 22, we can now welcome their return to the front covers of the world’s glossy magazines.
Since their homecoming, Spain’s most talked-about newlyweds have not stopped, their diaries bursting at the seams with social and family engagements. Cramming six royal visits into five days, the Prince and Princess of Asturias have barely had a moment to themselves. Starting with King Juan Carlos’ Saint’s Day celebrations in the Royal Palace the day after their return, which began with mass in the palace chapel and the christening of the King and Queen Sofía’s grandchildren, the former journalist and television presenter Letizia Ortiz seemed relaxed and comfortable in her recently-acquired royal role. Stunning, in the pale yellow suit she wore on the eve of her wedding day, she oozed confidence, decisiveness and style.
The following day was tinged with sadness as the couple travelled to Segovia to be present at the funeral of Ramiro Minguela Álvarez, a close friend and military colleague of Prince Felipe who had recently died of cancer at 41 years of age. In army commander attire, the Prince, accompanied by Letizia in mourning dress, attended the Segovia Artillery Academy where Minguela Álvarez had been an instructor. Felipe had last seen his old friend in April this year at the 20th anniversary of the Prince joining the General Military Academy of Zaragoza, where they were based together.
In keeping with royal tradition, the Prince and Princess then flew to Rome for their marriage to be blessed by Pope John Paul II. A custom which has been in place since time immemorial, the newlyweds were keen to participate and assure its continuity, thus they attended the Vatican where the Pope, seated in his private library, congratulated them on their wedding and wished them every happiness for the future. The royal couple then presented the Pope with a present - a picture of the Virgen del Pilar, and John Paul II returned the gesture by giving the Prince and Princess medals and rosary beads, pearl for Letizia and black for Felipe.
Amid the Olympic fever which has once again turned the planet into a bunch of square-eyed, armchair sportspeople, the highlight of Felipe and Letizia’s packed agenda was lighting the Olympic flame at the Puerta de Alcalá in Madrid, the city that Spain hopes will host the 2012 games. Colourful, vibrant parades and vast crowds of members of the public filled the city, and national sports personalities and a procession of children dressed in the Olympic colours - all having been born in 1992, year of the Barcelona Olympics - took to the streets in a vivid display of patriotism.
As Letizia Ortiz was a complete ‘outsider’, speculation has obviously been rife as to how she will adapt to her new role. From a middle-class working woman to future queen of Spain in less than six months, the radical life-change is likely, according to top psychologists, to cause her a few headaches. However, most agree that it is nothing that this strong, determined woman cannot handle. Dr Laura Romero, clinical psychologist at Barcelona’s ISEP training centre and José Luis Sánchez of the Instituto Andaluz de Psicología, commented that “she will certainly alternate between tension and fear that things will not go as planned, and phases of happiness and euphoria. It’s a logical reaction to positive change.” However, they believe that the change may not be as radical as everybody first thought. “she’s been married before, she knows what it is all about, and she won’t have to take on the role of Queen immediately. After the wedding she will have a long time to adapt slowly to her new responsibilities. She needs to take things slowly and not be afraid of making mistakes. If she is flexible, conscious of her limits and keen to learn, she will be able to act appropriately in every situation.” With her strong, energetic and communicative character, Letizia is already halfway there. It seems unlikely that she will crack under the strain as others in her position might. Plus, they make a fantastic couple - in every photo they are holding hands, and viewers across Spain only had to see the expression of unconcealed love on Letizia’s face every time she looked at the Prince on their wedding day, and the couple’s relaxed, happy smiles as they pronounced the “I do”.