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‘Leonormania’ as the future queen of Spain comes of age

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.

Casa de S.M. el Rey still/ fair use

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.

Casa de S.M. el Rey

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.

Casa de SM el Rey

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.

Casa de S.M. el Rey

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.

Casa de S.M. el Rey

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.

© Casa de S.M. el Rey

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.

Casa de S.M. el Rey

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.

Casa de S.M. el Rey

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.

Casa de S.M. el Rey still/ fair use

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.

About author

Lydia Starbuck is Jubilee and Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton who is a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. Her latest book, A History of British Royal Jubilees, is out now. Her new book, The Mysterious Death of Katherine Parr, will be published in March 2024. June is an award winning reporter, producer and editor. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.