It’s his 46th birthday, but instead of kicking back and enjoying himself, Prince Felipe is finding himself embroiled in new rumours about the state of his marriage.
Things haven’t been helped by an statement from the Palace (la Zarzuela) which spoke of altibajos in his marriage, the usual “ups and downs” after 10 years together. Altibajos are usually more bajo than alto…
The statement came to El Mundo after a question about the Prince and his health on his birthday, and has launched speculation across Spain, with all the main gossip programmes on TV, radio and press zooming in on the unfortunate turn of phrase.
The Princess has been the object of speculation in recent months, with commentators saying that the pressure of “the job” is getting to her. “Hola!” the magazine published a series on her recently under the title “a princess of contrasts”, which lead to one national radio commentator to say that they may just as well have come out and admitted she’s bipolar.
Sources close to the Palace have in recent months been hinting to the press that she’s depressed, and that the two are constantly rowing.
Federico Jiménez Losantos on his radio programme this morning didn’t help matters by saying that “he’s 46, 2 metres tall, 100 kilos in weight, but seems to be mute and has to let Daddy’s palace stroke rumours that he would rather suffer a divorce rather than force an abdication. All part of his plan to stay in power and keep raking in the cash”.
Federico reckons that the only popular member of the Royal Family is Felipe, but that his wife is keeping him back – in the opinion polls, she’s even lower than the King. Presenting him as a victim to the Spanish people of a fortune hunting wife, and forcing her out of the family, would only be to his advantage.
Letizia Ortiz was a TV presenter until suddenly Prince Felipe started to court her. She was rumoured to be behind the breakup with his former girlfriend, and suddenly burst onto the national scene when she appeared on his arm in public. Within weeks they were engaged. Nobody had any idea about the relationship before then.
But in the last year, as her opinion polls dropped, she has become ever more distant from her husband in public, often apparently snubbing him by dropping back behind him in public appearances. It’s got the point where some of the more Republic press is calling attention to it as rude.
ABC drew attention recently to the fact that they’ve been taking separate holidays – a few weeks ago he went skiing, she went to see Spandau Ballet. And she’s dropped out of a few official visits, or left the Prince alone during them, in order to go off and do her own thing.
If Prince Felipe does ascend the throne, it will, by the way, be Spains first peaceful accession since 1875, when Alfonso XIII took over from his grandmother the Queen Regent.