royal weddings prince felipe spain letizia

Spanish Crown Prince Felipe de Bourbon and his bride Letizia look at each other as the Royal couple appears on the balcony of Royal Palace May 22, 2004 in Madrid. Ian Waldie, Getty Images


When broadcast journalist Letezia Ortez Rocasolano married Spain's Crown Prince Felipe on May 22, 2004, their sumptuous wedding in Madrid's Almudena Cathedral was steeped in royal historical significance.

Rocasolano, a 31-year-old divorcée whose first marriage lasted less than a year, was the first commoner to marry an heir-to-the-throne in Spain's monarchical history. It was also the first wedding of a Spanish prince to take place on the nation's soil in 100 years.

Prince Felipe's parents, reigning King Juan Carlos and his Greek bride, Queen Sophia, were married in Athens, during the Spanish monarchy's exile during the reign of dictator Francisco Franco.

The couple's surprise 2003 engagement was greeted by some Spaniards with a mania similar to the hype surrounding the upcoming nuptials of Great Britain's Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Prince Felipe, long considered one of European royalty's most eligible bachelors, was known for his randy ways and questionable girlfriends (including a lingerie model).

The beautiful and well-educated Rocasolano, who reportedly began discreetly dating the prince after meeting him on assignment in 2002, quickly became a royal celebrity, inspiring everything from a nougat candy bar to a rock opera.

Still, there was a somber air that tempered the wedding celebrations as the country mourned the March 11, 2004 terrorist bombings which killed 190 people at the Madrid train station.

Spain's Crown Prince Felipe de Bourbon stands next to bride Letizia Ortiz as she offers her wedding bouquet in memory of the victims of March 11 at the altar at the Royal Basilica of Atocha in Madrid. Lavandeira Jr., Pool / Getty Images


Two F-18 jets patrolled the skies and NATO provided AWACS surveillance the day of the ceremony. The palace, out of respect for a still-mourning nation, altered some of its elaborate plans, including canceling a spectacular Madrid fireworks planned for the wedding night. Wedding gifts were requested for bombing victims' charities.

Despite tight security, there was fairy-tale pageantry galore.

The night before the ceremony, the king and queen held a private dinner for 350 wedding guests at Prado Palace. Among those attending were representatives of 30 royal houses as well as 15 presidents and heads of state.

The next day millions watched the morning wedding procession on Spanish television, while driving rain did not deter more than one million cheering people from lining the streets of Madrid.

Among the 1400 wedding guests were Great Britain's Prince Charles, former South African President Nelson Mandela, Crown Prince Naruhito of Japan, King Abudullah and Queen Rania of Jordan as well as Queen Noor.

Letizia Ortiz and Crown Prince Felipe during the wedding ceremony at the Almudena Cathedral. Lalo Yasky, WireImage

Princess Letezia's gown, created by legendary Spanish designer Manuel Pertegaz, featured a fitted bodice with a turned up collar and a sweeping skirt embroidered with heraldic symbols that filled the cathedral's altar. Her veil was made of silk lace.

Unlike many royal brides who keep their dresses a closely-guarded state secret, the newswoman announced her choice of Barcelona-based Pertegaz, before the ceremony. She even allowed him to release rough sketches of her gown. The legendary designer, then 86, had already outfitted style icons such as Audrey Hepburn and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

The prince, a military helicopter pilot, wore his formal dress uniform adorned with medals.

The brides wedding party, included bridesmaids, flower girls and pages, were outfitted in coordinating garments off off-white and saffron. The boys wore knickers and vests.

The cathedral was appointed in more than a million coordinating red, white and saffron flowers.

The couple dedicated their traditional Roman Catholic wedding mass to the bombing victims. Despite her divorce, the new princess was allowed to wed in the church because her first, brief marriage to a schoolteacher was not a church-sanctioned union.

Following the ceremony, the newlyweds paid a respectful call to a church near the bombed train station. There, Princess Letezia laid her bouquet of white lilies-of-the-valley in a symbolic gesture. Afterward, the couple cruised Madrid's streets in a Rolls Royce commissioned for Great Britain's Queen Elizabeth waving from behind protective bullet-proof glass.

After their honeymoon, the couple moved into the 11-bedroom Pabellon del Principe which features a swimming pool and a 20 car garage. They now have two daughters; Princess Sofia and Princess Leonor.

Princess Letezia has been named to Vanity Fair's International Best Dressed List on multiple occasions.