Everything that Letizia wanted to erase from Queen Sofia (and what she has really achieved)

Everything that Letizia wanted to erase from Queen Sofia (and what she has really achieved)
Everything that Letizia wanted to erase from Queen Sofia (and what she has really achieved)

In Queen Letizia’s first years as a member of the Royal Family, the hand of her predecessor can be seen. The then journalist was trying to find her style – and her hollowness – in a structure that was not exactly friendly. Letizia chose to follow the best mirror in which to look at herself, that of her mother-in-law. Queen Sofia, from her silence and simplicity, had imposed a model of what it meant to be a queen that society had bought. Acting as consort of the Head of State had clear and marked characteristics that were as strong as the German education in which the Sofia of Greece had moved.

Letizia allowed herself to be advised – did she have any choice? – and faithfully followed the instructions of the Casa Real team that had always been at the queen’s side. Her outfits were reminiscent of Sofia, her hairstyle was reminiscent of Sofia, even her way of addressing those present made us think of the current queen emeritus. Where was the journalist in the white suit on the day of the official request? Letizia’s character went around the world and from Zarzuela they soon ran to stop it. That wasn’t what they were used to.

Letizia soon realized that if she wanted things to work, she had to break and rebuild. Of course, for that she had to have not only a much more solid position within the institution, but also a court of faithful who could overcome decades of indications and guidelines.

Letizia’s first steps out of Queen Sofía’s control

Reviewing the newspaper archive of Letizia Ortiz’s first years as Prince Felipe’s girlfriend is practically not recognizing the current Letizia. Restrained, in the background and with more than questionable stylistic choices, the princess of Asturias fought in a world that was not hers. And she wasn’t the only one. The Bourbons were accustomed to codes and privileges that had nothing to do with those of the Ortiz Rocasolano. There are many voices that now point out the suffering that the family of the current queen went through when they came face to face with the reality of Zarzuela.

Nobody was prepared for that, not even Letizia herself. From the institution itself there was a conspiracy to isolate the future queen. King Juan Carlos had never liked his son’s girlfriend – not even the ones he had had before – and he tried, from the shadows, to continue exerting an influence that, little by little, was diluted. The monarchy required a renewal and it was going to be Letizia Ortiz who was in charge of carrying it out. Successfully? At least the one she’s been in her hands with.

It was not until the wedding of Frederick of Denmark and Mary Donaldson that the Princess of Asturias returned to the center of attention. Dressed in Caprile red, Letizia made her disembarkation among European royalty and resumed the position she had left on the day of her official request. The princess became a stylistic reference and positioned herself as one of the new ‘royal’ faces that were going to give a lot to talk about. So it was. Of course, she had the mission ahead of her to break with everything without it being noticed that she was doing it. The affection for Queen Sofia was still great and deep-rooted.

The moment when Letizia realized that everything had to change

King Juan Carlos ended up making it easier than anyone expected. After the scandal of the Nóos and Iñaki Urdangarin case came the fall in Botswana and the media appearance of Corinna Larssen. The institutions tried to cover the immediate past of King Juan Carlos but there was no way. Letizia’s firm hand with both her brother-in-law and her father-in-law earned her quite a bit of criticism among those in favor of the now emeritus, but it was the starting point for what we now know as the Royal Family.

The proclamation of King Philip and the accession of the royal couple to the throne was the beginning of the renewal plan. Change of structures, relaxation of formalities and a closer image that still today is not entirely natural. Zarzuela knew that his best weapon was Queen Letizia and he took advantage of each of her appearances to achieve this. ‘Operation Letizia’ dragged down the core of the Casa Real. Neither bullfighting, nor skiing, nor sailing. Cultural plans, cinema, literature, nutrition and an enormous influence of the queen.

The queen got down to work and managed to stand out for aspects that we never saw in Queen Sofia: her speech and her opinion. Letizia strives to ensure that attention is paid beyond her styling. She wants her voice to be heard and her causes to matter. Letizia convinces her when she speaks and prepares her interventions to the millimeter. “She is the best journalist in Spain even though she does not work,” explained Martín Bianchi in one of the presentations of the book about the queen that she has just published.

What Letizia has been able to change and what she has not

The new Royal House, at least the one we have been able to see in recent years, is far from the one built by Kings Juan Carlos and Sofia. Greater naturalness, greater spontaneity and a spirit more focused on approaching society although without losing the distance that has always characterized them. Letizia has imprinted her character on the choice of events and institutional commitments. Also in her image, fresher and closer, both to the queen herself and to her daughters and her husband. But not everything has been so hopeful.

Casa Real continues to commit opacity and secrecy. The silence that has always surrounded the Princess of Asturias and Infanta Sofía is strange. The overprotection of the queen has meant that we have almost not been able to see the daughters of the kings, something that does not happen in the rest of the monarchies. It is now, when Princess Leonor has come of age, that that door begins to open. And yet, the daughters of kings remain a mystery.

The kings have managed to limit the core of the Royal Family to four people. Five if you count Queen Sofia. The rest of the king’s family has disappeared from all actions and repercussions. It is not that they are not news, of course, but it has been possible that the fence that the queen put so much effort into establishing has worked. Scandals are – or so they claim – a thing of the past. Of course, what is the life of kings really like? What do they think, how do they act, what do they do? Will they grant an interview as other monarchies not so distant have done? These are all questions that we will never know. Royalty tries to change. Another thing is that he achieves it completely.

 
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