Spanish and Danish royals abandon blue blood to marry commoners

Two royal weddings within eight days show how Europe's crowned heads have abandoned blue-blooded alliances in favour of diluting - or enriching - their reigning dynasties with the usual red of ordinary folk.

Two royal weddings within eight days show how Europe's crowned heads have abandoned blue-blooded alliances in favour of diluting - or enriching - their reigning dynasties with the usual red of ordinary folk.

Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, scion of Europe's oldest royal family and heir to the Danish throne, married Mary Donaldson, an Australian businesswoman, in Copenhagen yesterday.

But the ceremony was hailed by the Spanish media yesterday as a mere "dress rehearsal" for the marriage a week today in Madrid of Crown Prince Felipe, 35, with Letizia Ortiz, a former television journalist. Yesterday's front pages showed Ms Ortiz, 31, with her prince in Copenhagen in the Spanish couple's first appearance among European royals.

Spain's future queen is divorced, the daughter of a nurse who is also divorced, and granddaughter of a taxi driver. Doña Letizia has, however, the advantage of being Spanish, which endears her to her future subjects.

Her humble origins have enabled the Spanish establishment to welcome her as a woman of her time who has much in common with ordinary Spaniards. This is important for Spain's ruling Borbons who are aware that popular approval determines the security of their throne.

The princes of Denmark and Spain are among a new generation of royals who not only marry whom they choose, but can inherit the throne as well - a development that reflects the waning importance of monarchies in the power structures of today's Europe.

Dutch and Norwegian princes have struck similar alliances with commoners. Princess Maxima of Holland is daughter of a member of Argentina's former military dictatorship. Norway's Princess Mette-Marit was a single mother whose former partner had a drugs conviction.

Ms Ortiz's first marriage was by civil ceremony, which means she will marry in Madrid's Almudena Cathedral and wear white, with the blessing of Spain's Catholic hierarchy. She will become Princess of Asturias, to match Felipe's title as heir, which is neat because she hails from the Asturian capital of Oviedo; a group of Asturian bagpipers will play outside the cathedral in their honour.

Plans for an extravagant national fiesta were sharply scaled down in the wake of the bombings on 11 March, and the couple asked that money for fireworks displays and song and dance shows to go instead to a memorial for families of the 192 who died. They also cancelled their hen and stag night parties.

Security, by contrast, has been stepped up to confront a possible terror threat. More than 21,000 police officers will patrol the heart of Madrid, a vast operation that will seal off the city centre to traffic, and subject sightseers to unprecedented checks.

Airspace above the capital will be closed to private aircraft across a distance of some 50 miles. Four F-18 fighter planes, and an Awacs surveillance plane lent by Nato, will patrol the skies for 26 hours.

Commercial flights will be unaffected, but anyone entering Spain from within the EU will have to show their passport. The Schengen agreement that allows for unrestricted travel within Europe is suspended for nine days.

Spanish security wants to prevent repetition not only of the slaughter of 11 March, but the act of terrorism that spoiled the wedding in 1906 of Prince Felipe's great-grandfather, King Alfonso XIII. An anarchist's bomb hurled at the procession killed several bystanders, and the bride arrived at the altar with blood on her dress.

Saturday's crowds will probably brandish only hundreds and thousands of commemorative fans - but are warned, in the interest of security, not to toss flowers at the couple.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

The Grange Retirement Home: Full Time Care Team Manager

£22,400: The Grange Retirement Home: This is a key role which requires a sound...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K YR1: SThree: At SThree, we like to be dif...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Web Developer

£30 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software / Web Developer (PHP / MYSQL) i...

Guru Careers: Account Executive

£18 - 20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Executive is needed to join one...

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada