Letizia, Princess of Asturias

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Letizia, Princess  of Asturias, celebrated her 40th birthday privately with her family, receiving an official photo-shoot as a present from the royal household. The rather lovely pictures feature the Crown Prince and Crown Princess with their daughters Leonor and Sofia at home, the family looking relaxed and happy writes Simona Rossi. A charming way to mark Letizia’s birthday for which photographer Cristina García Rodero was commissioned. Rodero, 63, is one of Letizia’s favourite artists. She has managed to capture the intimacy of private life as well as creating some stunning portraits of the birthday princess. The release of the offiicial photographs came at the same time as the relaunch of the Royal Family website. With Spain deep in political and economic crisis and following a year in which the Royal Family has had a rough ride, an overhaul of the palace public relations machine is underway. A year of slip ups and scandals that included the elephant hunting photo faux pax of King Juan Carlos and the ongoing matter of possible criminal charges against a member of the family. A rebranding is timely if not overdue. To succeed in restoring the image of the monarchy better communication will be vital and the ubiquitous internet is seen as the place to start. At first glance the new website remains familiar, opened by a banner featuring King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia. The main photograph shows the King, and the two future monarchs, the Prince of Asturias and his daughter, the Infanta Leonor, with the title “Three generations, a common commitment”. Keeping a contemporary feel profiles of the family are included but only go back a generation. A tricky decision must have been to include the profile of HE Don Iñaki Urdangarin. Infanta Cristina’s husband has been excluded from his official duties whilst he responds to embezzlement allegations. The new website’s objective is to bring more transparency to the institution of monarchy. Eighteen months in the making, it boasts around 12,000 photos and 3,000 speeches as well as the latest news and photos of the?Royal Family’s current engagements. The Crown Couple will of course have a leading role as the monarchy strives to show the Spanish people that it remains a relevant institution, one that will help the country through its deep economic crisis, which has seen unemployment rise to 25% and to more than 53% for younger people. Princess Letizia has shown her commitment over the last eight years since her marriage, travelling extensively around Spain representing the King. The Crown Couple also represent Spain around the world and have made official visits to Jordan, Mexico, Hungary, the Dominican Republic, Panama, the United States of America, Serbia, Brazil, Uruguay, Sweden, Denmark, Japan, China and Portugal. But in the current age of economic austerity and the growing public backlash against it, Letizia’s role may have a new emphasis. HRH’s personal focus has been on social issues such as children’s rights, culture and education but the Crown Princess, as for the Royal Family as a whole, will need to be seen contributing to the much hoped for recovery. It has often been said that as popular and respected as King Juan Carlos has been – the king who stood up to a military coup d’etat – the Spanish people might look beyond constitutional monarchy after his reign. Spain also has a republican tradition. The monarchy will be judged not only for its historic role, but also for its contemporary relevance. Much depends on the Crown Couple.?Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia are highly likeable people and undoubtedly well-intentioned. What is needed is a clear vision of what the monarchy will represent for current and future generations. That process of modernisation is underway but, as the well worn adage tells us, time does not wait. Given the scale of the crisis in Spain it is fervently hoped that the lovely pictures of the Crown Couple and their children are a sign of brighter days to come. (Extract from royalty Magazine Vol. 22/09)