Spain: Queen for life-Only King Felipe VI’s can file for divorce

Letizia Ortiz’s road to becoming Spain’s first ‘commoner’ queen

Felipe VI’s absolute legal immunity as king of Spain means only he can legally file for divorce if the royal couple’s marriage is on the rocks.

Former CNN and Bloomberg journalist Letizia Ortiz became Spain’s first commoner queen when her husband, Felipe VI, was sworn in as king.

Felipe, 46, became king after his father, Juan Carlos, abdicated the country’s throne earlier this month.

Ortiz, daughter of a journalist and a nurse and the granddaughter of a taxi driver, dated Felipe in secret before their engagement was announced in November 2003. They met at a dinner organized by a journalist friend.

Ortiz made headlines when the couple announced their engagement and she told Felipe in public to shut up. “Let me finish,” she said, smiling, in front of a throng of cameras.

Letizia may have willingly surrendered a corner of her private life when being crowned queen of Spain on Thursday, but the former TV journalist has also, probably unknowingly, lost one of her fundamental rights as a married woman.

Spain’s absolute legal immunity for reigning monarchs means Spain’s new king can’t be taken to court.

“If she tried, it would be blocked,” Verónica del Carpio, lawyer and Civil Rights academic, told Spanish online daily Público.

“If he filed for divorce, it would be granted to him without a doubt.”

Asked if she thought Felipe’s legal ‘upper hand’ would also mean a judge would grant him custody of their two daughters Leonor y Sofía, del Carpio replied “I’d rather talk with documents in my hand, but all the clauses of Felipe and Letizia’s marriage documents are secret.”

“All this does is show how absurd it is that some people are legally shielded in a civil manner.

“What does being king have to do with not having to pay a debt or being sued?”

Spain’s King Juan Carlos famously said “justice is the same for all” when referring to his son-in-law Iñaki Urdangarin and his alleged money laundering problems, but the ageing monarch is now also set to get the absolute immunity he had during his 39-year reign.

Spain’s ruling Popular Party presented an amendment in Parliament on Friday which if passed will grant Juan Carlos legal privilege so only the Supreme Court can hear cases against him.