People who are undertaking a Spanish language course often also take an interest in the country’s culture and history, and this is highly commendable as there is strong research to suggest that these students are more likely to stick with their studies and enjoy better results. Those with a sharp eye for all matters Spanish in the news will no doubt have read the news that King Juan Carlos is set to abdicate and hand the throne to his son, Crown Prince Felipe.
Spain’s history and culture is inextricably linked with its Royal Family (la Familia Real). The Royal Family are generally admired in Spain but their fortunes, like those of many royal houses, have risen and fallen over the years. King Juan Carlos came to the throne in 1975 on the death of the dictator General Franco. The King comes from the Bourbon dynasty, members of which formerly occupied the French throne as well as others across Europe. His wife Queen Sofia was born a princess of Greece and Denmark; she is a cousin of the Duke of Edinburgh and sister of the deposed King Constantine of Greece. The Kings and Queens of Spain have been Bourbon since 1700, although their reign has not been continuous as Spain spent two separate periods as a republic in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
It’s not possible to look in any great depth at the current members of the Royal Family and their forbears in one short blog, but it is well worth looking up a family tree (árbol genealógico) online to find out about the Spanish Royal House and its relationship to other European Royal Families, past and present. This is a good way not only to enrich your knowledge of Spanish history, but also to learn or reinforce vocabulary related to the family and to royal titles.