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A special day in a special era for the future of the Spanish Monarchy

Princess Leonor undertook her first solo engagement in military uniform on the eve of a very significant day for her family. 

The heir to the Spanish throne will probably forever remember Tuesday, 21st May 2024 as the day her relationship with the city of Zaragoza was cemented in history, as she took part in three distinct ceremonies that symbolise the ties that unite the city with the Crown. 

Historic setting

First on the agenda was a stop at the Parliament of the Autonomic Community of Aragona, which operates out of the Aljafería Palace, built in the 11th century. 

Upon her arrival, she was welcomed by State and local authorities, including the Minister of Defence Margarita Robles, the President of the Aragona Government and the Mayor of Zaragoza, Natalia Chueca. 

The Princess of Asturias was greeted by big crowds throughout the day (Casa de S.M. el Rey)

After the reading of the concession act for the Medal of the Parliament of Aragona, the President of the Autonomic legislature, Marta Fernández, hung the medal around the Princess’ neck. 

This portion of the day ended with a tour of the Palace and a signature in the guests book, where she wrote, in part, “Thank you so much for granting me the Medal of the Aragona Parliament […]. A special occasion that gave me the opportunity to know more of its history and enjoy its beauty. With all my affection”. 

Cheers for the heir to the Spanish throne

The next event on the agenda took place just outside the Aljafería Palace, on Plaza de la Ciudadanía (Citizenship Square), where Princess Leonor was welcomed by a cheering crowd, as well at the Mayor of Zaragoza, who handed her the command baton outside of the Municipality building, before leading her inside for a meeting with members of the City council. 

The act continued with the signing of the Guests Book, in which she wrote partly “I also thank you very much for granting me the title of Adoptive Daughter of Zaragoza; a city I know and love more after living these months here, and receiving the affection of its citizens”. 

Finally, the document conceding the title was read in the Reception Hall, and the Mayor handed over a medal symbolising the honour of Adoptive Daughter of Zaragoza, marking the end of the event. 

Important honour for a future queen

The last moment of the day took place in La Seo del Salvador, one of Zaragoza’s Cathedrals, where Princess Leonor received the Medal of Aragona from the hands of the President of the Autonomic Community. 

The heir to the throne was welcomed by yet more cheering crowds, before entering the Cathedral and listening to the notes of the Aragona anthem. After the President of the Community offered a few words, the document conceding the honour was read, and then the President handed the Princess her medal. 

It was then Princess Leonor’s turn to offer a few words, in which she remarked on the particular poignancy of the day for her, given that these three events also happened in 1986 for her father, currently King Felipe VI, when he was a cadet in the General Military Academy of the City. 

Princess Leonor has spent almost a year living in Aragon (Casa de S.M. el Rey)

She said: “I can tell you that what I experienced here goes far beyond my expectations 10 months ago. In Zaragoza, in Aragon, I felt at home, welcomed and accompanied in a land that will always be part of my life. There are only five weeks left before I leave, […], and I’m already starting to miss you!”. 

She added: “My father experienced all of this in a similar was almost 40 years ago, and throughout these past few days we have talked about this a lot. Following in his footsteps means a lot to me”. 

Following the playing of the National Anthem, Princess Leonor signed the last guest book of the day, and wrote: “Today was a very happy day for me, which binds me forever, and in a special way, to this Aragonese land. To culminate the day in the lovely Sao del Salvador and to receive here, in the place where its Kings were crowned, the Medal of Aragona is a privilege and an honour that I will always remember. Thank you so much! With all my affection”. 

Throughout the day, Princess Leonor sported her special relevance uniform for the Army – the same choice that her father made back in 1986. The uniform, however, has been updated since, with the latest norms being dictated by a ministerial order published in 2023. 

She also sported the honour insignias that were conceded to her, including the Order of Charles III on her chest (which she received in 2023 for her 18th birthday) and the Order of the Golden Fleece, which her father handed out to her on the occasion of the 10th birthday, in 2015. The last difference compared to her peers’ uniforms is the patch on her right arm depicting a fleur de lys, the symbol of the Borbon dynasty. 

Anniversaries for Spain’s royal family

This event comes as the Spanish Royals are celebrating King Felipe and Queen Letizia’s 20th wedding anniversary; for the occasion, the Spanish Royal House released several pictures taking in the gardens of the Royal Palace. 

This also comes as the King is preparing to celebrate the next 19th of June for 2 reasons: firstly, Princess Leonor will graduate her Army training, officially ending her time in Zaragoza and projecting her towards her year in the Navy; and, on the same day of the end-of-year ceremony, King Felipe will also celebrate his 10th anniversary on the throne – he was proclaimed King on the 19th of June 2014, following the abdication of his father, King Juan Carlos.

A moment in time in which the Spanish Crown is undoubtedly evolving, and projecting itself towards a future that, for now, wears braided buns atop a military uniform, and feels nostalgic for a year of discipline and camaraderie.