By Humphrey Carter and Jason Moore PALMA

LEADING British actor Joseph Fiennes, best known for his portrayals of William Shakespeare in Shakespeare in Love, and Sir Robert Dudley in Elizabeth is currently enjoying a festive break in Majorca with his wife and baby daughter.

Fiennes, his wife the Swiss model and former Miss Switzerland of Spanish (Galician) heritage, María Dolores Diéguez and their nine-month-old daughter, spent yesterday morning shopping in Palma before enjoying a light snack in a bar along the Borne.

Fiennes was born in Salisbury, Wiltshire and is the son of novelist Jennifer Lash and photographer Mark Fiennes. The youngest of six siblings, Fiennes was brought up in West Cork, Ireland. He is the brother of actor Ralph Fiennes, filmmakers Sophie Fiennes and Martha Fiennes, composer Magnus Fiennes and his twin brother Jacob Fiennes, a conservationist. His foster brother, Michael Emery, is an archaeologist. He is a cousin of Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Bt. and eighth cousin of HRH The Prince of Wales.

Fiennes was briefly educated in the Republic of Ireland and then at the private primary Swan School For Boys in Salisbury, before passing his 11+ exam and continuing to Bishop Wordsworth's School, a voluntary-aided state day grammar school, in the Cathedral Close of the city. He then attended art school in Suffolk for a year, before joining the Young Vic Youth Theatre. Fiennes subsequently trained for three years at London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama, graduating in 1993.

His first professional stage appearance was in the West End in The Woman in Black, followed by A Month in the Country opposite Helen Mirren. Fiennes then became a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company for two seasons.

In 1998, Fiennes appeared in two films that were nominated at the Academy Awards: he played Robert Dudley opposite Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth and he portrayed William Shakespeare opposite Gwyneth Paltrow in his most popular film to date Shakespeare in Love, which won the award for Best Picture. Following the success of Shakespeare in Love, Fiennes turned down a 5 picture deal from a major studio and withdrew from mainstream cinema.

More recently, he starred in the hugely popular ABC science fiction series FlashForward, which debuted on 24 September 2009 and ran through until 27 May 2010, as character Mark Benford.

He will star in Starz's upcoming 10-part series, Camelot, as the wizard Merlin which airs next year.