Thursday, April 18, 2024

Another Romance brewing in Spain

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In mid-January, Irene Urdangarin y Borbon, the only daughter of Infanta Doña Cristina of Spain and her former husband Iñaki Urdangarin y Liebart, said goodbye to her family at the Zarzuela Palace as she was leaving for Cambodia to work with vulnerable and physically disabled children.  Cambodia has among the highest number of people with disabilities caused by polio and landmines.

Irene is staying at the Arrupe Center in Battambang, Cambodia, where, according to Hola, she is "completely dedicated to helping the most vulnerable people" and considering her own future.  It was difficult for her to encounter Cambodia's "extreme poverty and suffering.  She lives in a small house at the center, founded in 2001 by Bishop Enrique Figaredo Alvargonzalez, a Jesuit priest.

One of the guests at the goodbye party was Juan Urquijo y Moreno, whose sister, Teresa, married Madrid's mayor José Luis Martínez-Almeida Navasqüés on April 6.  Juan shared photos and messages with Irene as she could not attend.    Her mother and brother, Juan Valentin were guests at the wedding.  

Juan, born in 1999, is the second child and only son of Beatriz Moreno y de Borbon and  Lucas Urquijo Fernández de Araoz.  He studied at the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester, England.    Beatriz owns a book-binding shop in Madrid.

 Irene and Juan got to know each other better last summer through Irene's first cousin, Victoria Federica Marichalar y Borbon.  Victoria Federica, whose mother is Infanta Elena of Spain, and Juan Urquijo met when they were students at St George's, a British school in Madrid.

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The relationship between Irene, who will celebrate her 19th birthday in June, and Juan, seven years her senior, began as a "special friendship" that has, according to several Spanish sources, become a romantic relationship.

Irene grew up in Geneva, Switzerland, where her mother is the Director of International Programmes of the La Caixa” Foundation "in charge of global health and development projects in the world’s most vulnerable countries."   Her parents were divorced at the end of 2023.

Their friendship began before Irene graduated from high school in 2023, but when she moved to Madrid to live with her grandmother, Queen Sofia, at the Zarzuela Palace, she and Juan could spend more time together.  Irene was in Madrid to get her driver's license.

According to Hola, the young couple spent nearly every day together until she flew to Cambodia, where she is expected to spend her gap year before returning home to attend university.

Their mothers have been friends since childhood.  Through King Alfonso XII,  Irene and Juan are fourth cousins.

Alfonso XII - Alfonso XIII - Juan, Count of Barcelona - Juan Carlos - Cristina -Irene 

Alfonso XII - Maria de las Mercedes - Alfonso, Duke of Calabria - Teresa - Beatriz - Juan

Irene and Juan are half-second cousins twice through the late Prince Carlos of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, who was married twice. Irene is a descendant of the first marriage to Maria de las Mercedes, Princess of Asturias, elder sister of King Alfonso XIII.   Juan descends from Carlos' second marriage to Princess Louise of Orléans. 

Carlos, Duke of Calabria - Alfonso (Mercedes' son)  -  Princess Teresa - Beatriz - Teresa - Juan

Carlos. Duke of Calabria -  Mercedes (Louise's daughter) - King Juan Carlos - Cristina

Juan is a second cousin once removed of the late Juan Manuel de Urquijo, Count de Odiel, who was married to María Cristina de Baviera y Mesía, whose grandmother, Infanta Maria Teresa, was King Alfonso XIII's youngest sister.

The young couple share interests in movies, music, and reading Irene is a competent pianist like her aunt Princess Irene of Greece, for whom she was named.   During their time together, they have spent time in the countryside and skiing. 

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 In the previous photo, Juan is on the left next, as he and his mother and José Luis Martínez-Almeida Navasqüés welcome King Juan Carlos to the wedding of Juan's sister, Teresa.)

Irene is 10th in line to the Spanish throne.

1 comment:

Christina said...

Marlene, Your line, "Irene was in Madrid to get her driver's license." got me laughing out loud! So funny, and who knew the dreaded task of getting one's driver's license could be so rewarding! Thanks for the humor!