Princess Leonor of Spain Celebrates 18th Birthday with Inaugural Ceremony Signifying Future Queenship

by Andrew Wright
Princess Leonor's 18th birthday ceremony

Princess Leonor, the successor to Spain’s throne, pledged her loyalty to the nation’s Constitution during a ceremonial event on her 18th birthday. The occasion served as a formal preparation for her eventual ascension to the role of queen when the appropriate time arrives.

The occasion, broadcast live across the nation from the lower chamber of Parliament, signified the enduring nature of Spain’s parliamentary monarchy and its loyalty to the legislative body.

Leonor de Borbón Ortiz recited the same oath that her father took in 1986 when he was an 18-year-old prince, committing “to diligently perform my responsibilities, to maintain and defend the Constitution and laws, and to respect the rights of citizens and the autonomous regions, while being loyal to the king.”

Leonor was designated crown princess following the proclamation of her father, Felipe VI, as king on June 19, 2014. Recently, her image has been prominently featured in various media outlets, with the term “Leonormania” coined to highlight her growing significance as a contemporary figurehead for the future monarchy.

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The ceremony on Tuesday was a prerequisite for Leonor to be legally eligible for eventual succession to the throne.

Streetlights along key avenues in Madrid displayed banners adorned with her photograph. Numerous government edifices were decorated with ornamental drapery for the televised event, which was also shown on oversized screens throughout the capital.

Upon arriving at the parliament, the royal family was escorted by a mounted division of the Royal Guard. Leonor and her younger sister acknowledged the gathering crowds in central Madrid from within their Rolls Royce. Spectators had begun to assemble early in the day.

Members from left-leaning political factions, including three cabinet ministers, along with legislators from Basque, Catalan, and Galician regional and separatist parties, abstained from participating in the ceremony, advocating for a republic over a monarchy.

The royal family remains engaged in efforts to restore its tarnished reputation, particularly in light of various scandals, most notably involving former King Juan Carlos, Leonor’s grandfather.

Neither Juan Carlos nor the former Queen Sofía were present for the special parliamentary session or the ensuing ceremony at Madrid’s Royal Palace. However, they were expected to attend a private family gathering later at the Pardo Palace.

Juan Carlos, aged 85, vacated Spain for Abu Dhabi in 2020 amidst a slew of financial controversies. Legal investigations into his financial conduct in both Spain and Switzerland have been terminated, and he recently won a separate lawsuit against an ex-partner.

Although King Felipe and Queen Letizia have succeeded in partially restoring the monarchy’s public image, questions still persist. Many Spaniards remain skeptical due to former dictator General Francisco Franco’s decision to install Juan Carlos on the throne, superseding his father and the rightful heir, Juan de Borbón. Spain’s monarchy had been in hiatus since King Alfonso XIII went into exile in 1931, preceding the rise of the Second Republic and Franco’s coup five years later.

Public opinion regarding the royal family is challenging to quantify, as Spain’s primary polling organization ceased inquiring about royal approval ratings in 2015 due to ongoing scandals.

Leonor has been carefully prepared for her role by her parents. Before marrying Felipe, her mother was a television journalist. Leonor has displayed royal poise while leading ceremonies for the Princess of Asturias Foundation and other institutions she oversees.

She is presently undergoing basic military training in Zaragoza, a city in northeastern Spain. She is fluent in English, French, and Catalan, and has a basic understanding of Arabic.

Details concerning Leonor’s personal traits remain scant as she has not yet granted any media interviews. However, her high school graduation in Wales was met with applause from her peers, and her tutor commended her “steadfast enthusiasm for learning, for empathizing with people, and for exploring diverse viewpoints,” adding that her sense of humor would be missed.

Contributions for this report were made by Joseph Wilson, a writer based in Barcelona, Spain.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Princess Leonor’s 18th birthday ceremony

What was the significance of Princess Leonor’s 18th birthday ceremony?

The 18th birthday ceremony for Princess Leonor was a pivotal event that marked her formal allegiance to Spain’s Constitution. This sets the stage for her eventual succession to the throne and her future role as queen of Spain.

Who is Princess Leonor?

Princess Leonor is the heir to the Spanish throne. She is the daughter of King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia. She became the crown princess when her father was proclaimed king on June 19, 2014.

What did Princess Leonor pledge during the ceremony?

Princess Leonor pledged her loyalty to the Spanish Constitution and laws, committing to diligently perform her responsibilities and respect the rights of citizens and autonomous regions. She used the same oath that her father took when he turned 18 in 1986.

Was the ceremony televised?

Yes, the ceremony was nationally televised from the lower chamber of the Spanish Parliament. It was also broadcast on several large screens set up in the capital city of Madrid.

Were there any political protests or boycotts related to the ceremony?

Yes, representatives from left-leaning political parties, including three government ministers, as well as lawmakers from Basque, Catalan, and Galician regional and separatist parties, boycotted the event. They advocate for a republic over a monarchy.

What is the current public opinion of the royal family in Spain?

Public opinion concerning the Spanish royal family is difficult to ascertain. The main Spanish polling organization stopped asking about royal approval ratings in 2015 due to ongoing scandals involving various family members.

What is Leonor currently doing apart from royal duties?

Princess Leonor is undergoing basic military training in Zaragoza, a city in northeastern Spain. She is fluent in multiple languages including English, French, Catalan, and has some understanding of Arabic.

What has Princess Leonor been groomed for?

Princess Leonor has been prepared for her future role by her parents, King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia. She has already presided over ceremonies for the Princess of Asturias Foundation and other honorific institutions.

Why were former King Juan Carlos and former Queen Sofía absent from the ceremony?

Neither Juan Carlos nor former Queen Sofía attended the ceremony. Juan Carlos, who abdicated in 2014, left Spain in 2020 amidst financial controversies. Both were expected to attend a private family gathering later.

Is Princess Leonor popular among her peers?

Though details about her personality remain limited, she received applause from her peers during her high school graduation in Wales, and her tutor commended her enthusiasm for learning and empathizing with people.

More about Princess Leonor’s 18th birthday ceremony

  • Spanish Royal Family Official Website
  • Spain’s Constitution and Monarchy
  • Profile of King Felipe VI
  • Public Opinion Polls on Spanish Monarchy
  • Princess of Asturias Foundation
  • Political Landscape and Monarchy in Spain
  • Military Training for Spanish Royalty
  • Recent Scandals Affecting the Spanish Royal Family
  • History of Spanish Monarchy
  • Biography of Queen Letizia

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Emily Davis October 31, 2023 - 3:50 pm

Interesting how some political parties boycotted the event. Goes to show, monarchy’s still a touchy subject in Spain i guess.

Mike Johnson October 31, 2023 - 4:09 pm

Good to see a young face getting prepared for leadership. But the monarchy’s past still casts a shadow. Lot of work ahead for the royal family to gain public trust again.

John Smith October 31, 2023 - 5:47 pm

Wow, Princess Leonor’s really stepping into the spotlight now. Amazing to see how traditions are carried on. She’s def got some big shoes to fill!

Karen Miller October 31, 2023 - 7:18 pm

So the royal family’s reputation’s still shaky? Not surprising with the history but it’s a new generation, time for a fresh start maybe?

Robert Clark November 1, 2023 - 12:00 am

Military training, multiple languages, ceremonial duties… this young lady is pretty well-rounded! Curious to see how she’ll handle being queen one day.

Sarah Williams November 1, 2023 - 2:15 am

Why does former King Juan Carlos get to skip the important ceremonies but still attend the family gathering? Seems a bit off, given the scandals he’s been in.

Tom Anderson November 1, 2023 - 5:17 am

Didn’t know she speaks multiple languages and even some Arabic. Impressive. But lets see how she manages the challenges that come with being a future queen.


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