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Infanta Elena
Duchess of Lugo
L’infante Hélène d’Espagne, duchesse de Lugo en 2011.jpg
The Duchess of Lugo in 2011
Born (1963-12-20) 20 December 1963 (age 60)
Our Lady of Loreto Hospital, Madrid, Spain
Jaime de Marichalar, Lord of Tejada
(m. 1995; div. 2010)
Issue Felipe de Marichalar y Borbón
Victoria de Marichalar y Borbón
Full name
Elena María Isabel Dominica de Silos de Borbón y de Grecia
House Bourbon-Anjou
Father Juan Carlos I of Spain
Mother Sophia of Greece and Denmark
Signature Infanta Elena's signature

Infanta Elena, Duchess of Lugo (Elena María Isabel Dominica de Silos de Borbón y de Grecia; born 20 December 1963), is the first child and eldest daughter of King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofía. As the eldest sister of King Felipe VI, Elena is the third in the line of succession to the Spanish throne. She has another younger sister, Infanta Cristina.

On 3 March 1995, on the occasion of her marriage to Jaime de Marichalar y Sáenz de Tejada, Lord of Tejada, she was created Duchess of Lugo by her father, King Juan Carlos. The title, as part of the titles belonging to the Spanish crown, was granted to her for life and her descendants will not be able to inherit it.

Since the ascension of her younger brother to the Spanish throne, Elena is not part of the royal family. However, just as she did during her father's reign, she currently represents the Crown when required by the monarch. She has also represented her family abroad on several occasions, having travelled to Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, Argentina, Japan, Peru, and the Philippines.

Early life and family

(Infanta Elena) De proclamatie en beëdiging van Prins Juan Carlos tot Koning van Spanje tijdens , Bestanddeelnr 254-9764 (cropped)
Elena as a child in 1975

Infanta Elena was born on 20 December 1963 at Our Lady of Loreto Hospital, now known as ORPEA Madrid Loreto, in Madrid. She is the first member to be born in hospital from King Juan Carlos I's family and she is eldest child of King Juan Carlos I, the former Spanish monarch, and his wife, Queen Sofía (born Princess of Greece and Denmark). She has one sister and one brother.

Elena studied at Santa María del Camino School in Madrid and got a diploma as teacher of secondary school in 1986, with a specialty in English studies. She later moved to Paris in order to study French literature; it was during this time that she met her future husband. After working as an English teacher at her childhood school, she graduated in Education Sciences by the Comillas Pontifical University in 1993.


Since she was a child, Elena showed a special preference for horse riding, a passion that she inherited from her grandmother, Princess María de las Mercedes, Countess of Barcelona. It was during her adolescence that she began to make a name for herself in the world of show jumping. She debuted in an official competition in 1982 at the Club de Campo Villa de Madrid. After this, in the late 1980s King Juan Carlos ordered the construction of stables and a riding arena at the Royal Palace of Zarzuela so that her daughter could practice her hobby in the palace. As of 2023, although she no longer resides in Zarzuela nor is she part of the royal family, she continues to use these facilities that she upholds financially.

Elena was described by fellow equestrian Luis Jaime Carvajal y Salas, 5th Duke of Aveyro, as a "very good [rider]" but he pointed that her problem was that horse riding "requires time and she doesn't have it" as a member of the royal family.

Among the most notable horses of the Infanta are Qant (her favorite horse since 2011) and Jordano EB (Qant successor), a chestnut-bred horse that she bred herself. As of 2016, Elena owned, at least, eight different horses.

Elena has had several equestrian teachers; since she left the royal family, she has not had an official one. The most relevant are Felipe de Zuleta y Alejandro from 2006 to 2015, an official of the Royal Guard and brother of the Duke of Abrantes, private secretary of Queen Letizia from 2014 to 2024, and Luis Astolfi Pérez de Guzmán, a former boyfriend and currently a close friend to the infanta. Luis and Elena relinked their friendship in 2013 after many years without contact.

She shares this hobby with her daughter, Victoria, Grandee of Spain, as well as watching bullfighting.

Marriage and children

Elena met Jaime de Marichalar y Sáenz de Tejada, Lord of Tejada, son of the Amalio de Marichalar y Bruguera, 8th Count of Ripalda, for the first time in 1987 in Paris. Elena was studying French literature at the French capital while Jaime was working for the Swiss bank Credit Suisse. Soon after that meeting, they started a relationship but it was not until 1993 that the press got the first photographs of the couple and during 1994, the wedding rumors increased. On 23 November 1994, the Royal Household made official their engagement.

The formal marriage proposal was made on 26 November 1994 at the Royal Palace of Zarzuela. The engagement ring was a diamond ring part of a tiara belonging to the groom's mother, María de la Concepción Sáenz de Tejada y Fernández de Bobadilla, Lady of Tejada. In addition to the immediate royal family, Princess María de las Mercedes, Countess of Barcelona (the bride's grandmother), Infanta Pilar, Duchess of Badajoz (the bride's aunt) and the Duchess and Duke of Soria (the bride's aunt and uncle) were also present.

Boda real Infanta Elena
Elena and her father, King Juan Carlos, the day of the wedding.

Their wedding took place on 18 March 1995, in the Seville Cathedral. This was the first royal wedding in Spain since the wedding of King Alfonso XIII and Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg in 1906. Around 1,500 guest, including representatives of 39 royal houses, attended the event. 150,000 citizens filled the streets around the Cathedral. Also, to celebrate the occasion, King Juan Carlos created Infanta Elena as Duchess of Lugo.

The couple have two children: Felipe de Marichalar y Borbón (born 17 July 1998) and Victoria de Marichalar y Borbón (born 9 September 2000) were born at Ruber International Hospital in Madrid . On 26 June 2003, a few days later after the king announced the third pregnancy of his daughter, Elena suffered a miscarriage. As children of an Infanta of Spain, Elena's children are Grandees of Spain.

On 13 November 2007, it was announced that Elena had separated from her husband. In November 2009, the Spanish media reported that she and her husband would divorce, although a rumour to that effect had been circulating for a year before the announcement was made. Their divorce papers were signed on 25 November 2009. The Duchess and Duke consort of Lugo were divorced in December 2009. On 21 January 2010, the divorce was registered at the Civil Registry of the Spanish Royal Family and it was officially announced on 9 February 2010; Jaime de Marichalar was no longer permitted to use the ducal title and he was no longer considered to be an official member of the Spanish Royal Family.

Activities and personal work

Elena started to attend official events at very young age. One of the first official events she attended was the proclamation of his father in November 1975. Since finishing her most basic education in 1983, Elena, along with her sister Cristina, supported their parents representing the Crown at official events such as the National Day, the wedding of Princess Astrid of Belgium, the re-burial of Queen Victoria Eugenia at El Escorial, the state visit of Mexican president Miguel de la Madrid to Spain, and the 1984 Prince of Asturias Awards ceremony, among others.

Since the ascension of her brother in June 2014 and the consequent departure from the royal family, Elena has reduced her public appearances. Exceptionally, that year she represented the Crown in some events, such as the funeral of Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart, 18th Duchess of Alba in November 2014 and the delivery of the National Sports Awards in December 2014. Since then, Elena has limited her institutional activity to annually presiding over the awards ceremony for the Patrimonio Nacional's Children's and Youth Painting Contest.

In addition to her obligations as an infanta, Elena has a personal job that allows her to compensate for the lack of public salary by not being a member of the royal family. Elena has worked at the Mapfre Foundation since 2008 and currently serves as director of social and cultural projects. From this position, Infanta Elena has helped the foundation to promote projects and give visibility to various cooperation programs in Latin America through several international tours. Most of the public appearances of the infanta are related to the social activities of this foundation.

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Coat of Infanta Elena of Spain, Duchess of Lugo
Her coat of arms since her divorce.

Titles and styles

  • 20 December 1963  – 3 March 1995: Her Royal Highness Infanta Doña Elena
  • 3 March 1995 – present: Her Royal Highness Infanta Doña Elena, Duchess of Lugo


National honours

Foreign honours

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Elena de Borbón para niños

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