The future queen of Spain has taken centre stage in her royal family’s life as a milestone approaches. In the weeks before Princess Leonor turns 18, and comes of age, the heir to the throne has been the highest profile member of her dynasty. On October 31st 2023, as she reaches adulthood, Leonor assumes the right to reign by herself, should she need to, and can also act as regent if required. In the run up to this moment of history, the princess has become the most popular symbol of a royal family recovering from a time of difficulty.
At the heart of Princess Leonor’s role has been her military training. As future queen, she has started a three year programme which will see her train with the Army, Navy and Air Force. Her first weeks have been spent with the Spanish Army and it was her military role which produced the most striking images of all of a future queen.
In the early days of October 2023, Princess Leonor swore allegiance to the flag of Spain. The heir made her pledge at a ceremony in Zaragoza for all the cadets she had been undergoing military training with since August.
However, after the group oath, the princess stepped forward to make her own promise and to kiss the flag held before her. Her parents, King Felipe and Queen Letizia, oversaw the ceremony but couldn’t contain their pride when their daughter stepped forward. Later, Princess Leonor signed the book of honour as her dad looked on.
On the eve of this special event, Leonor had joined her fellow cadets at another special event. As is traditional, they had been to church to pay homage to the Virgin of Pilar in Zaragoza, as all trainees do the day before swearing allegiance to the flag.
These traditional acts produced an image of a queen in waiting. These were further reinforced just days later when Leonor joined her parents at Spain’s National Day parade, wearing military uniform for the ceremony for the first time.
The future queen was at her father’s side as he laid a wreath in honour of all those who have given their lives for Spain. Princess Leonor was alongside him as the military parade went past.
The princess was back with her family soon afterwards as they travelled to Oviedo in Asturias for the prestigious awards that bear the name of the heir to the throne. Leonor has overseen the Princess of Asturias awards for several years now but the 2023 ceremony was particularly significant as it came just before her 18th birthday and the moment she can assume royal power on her own, if need be.
The princess was joined by her parents, King Felipe and Queen Letizia, as well as her younger sister, Infanta Sofia. The heir was especially attentive to her paternal grandmother, Queen Sofia, who walked with her into the auditorium and looked on proudly as the young princess gave another well received speech.
In the days just before her 18th birthday, Princess Leonor found her family photo album opened up to the world as some never before seen images of her growing up were shared to mark the milestone. There was also a row after it was confirmed that Queen Sofia wouldn’t attend the most significant ceremony of all, the one in which Leonor swore allegiance to the Spanish Constitution. The event takes place in the Spanish parliament on October 31st 2023 but, as King Juan Carlos won’t be there, Queen Sofia won’t either to avoid a distinction between the two. However, despite the debate around that, it is Leonor who remains the star of Spain’s royal show. As she begins a new chapter in her life, the heir to the throne is the focal point of her dynasty.