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Last Updated: Sunday, 2 November, 2003, 04:14 GMT
Spanish prince to wed journalist
Prince Felipe
Felipe's love life has been the focus of intense speculation
The heir to the Spanish throne has got engaged, the palace has announced.

Prince Felipe, 35, is to marry television presenter Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano, 31, early next summer at the Almudena Cathedral in Madrid.

The prince, the only son of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia, will formally seek his parents' consent on Thursday.

The love life of the prince, who once courted a Norwegian ex-lingerie model, has been the subject of keen speculation in Spain for several years.

Tall and considered dashing, the prince was once described by the Spanish magazine Hola as having exactly what it takes to be a royal heart throb.

The BBC's Danny Wood, in Madrid, says that until now the relationship has been a closely guarded secret, but the wedding plans have been enthusiastically welcomed around the country.

The short statement from the palace was deemed important enough to interrupt Saturday night television football.

The prince's fiancee is a divorcee but, our correspondent says, Spain's dominant Roman Catholic Church is not expected to oppose her remarriage because the original wedding was not held in a church.

A spokesman for the royal household quoted by AFP news agency said the king and queen were satisfied at the match, believing that the bride-to-be "reconciles the necessary conditions" to share their son's responsibilities.

Past affair

Prince Felipe has been heir since his father was crowned king in 1975 during the transition from the Franco dictatorship to the modern Spanish democracy.

Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano
Letizia Ortiz is a television presenter
He regularly represents Spain at initiation ceremonies for heads of state or government in Latin America and regularly carries out official trips abroad and in Spain.

His two elder sisters, Princesses Elena and Cristina, are already married, both to non-royalty.

The Spanish royal household has kept silence on the prince's previous affairs, the best-known of which was that with Norwegian model Eva Sannum.

The affair, which reportedly lasted four years, ended in December 2001. Monarchists had objected to past modelling work done by Ms Sannum.

Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano is a well-known television presenter who, according to Spain's ABC newspaper, first met the prince last December.

He was visiting the region of Galicia after an oil slick devastated the shoreline and she was covering the story at the time.

Rocasolano has worked as a journalist for ABC newspaper, the state news agency EFE and local channel CNN+.

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