After much anticipation, Princess Leonor has entered the General Military Academy in Zaragoza to kickstart her three-year-long military training programme in the Army.
At 12pm on Thursday, 17th August, the Princess of Asturias arrived at the designated drop-off point accompanied by her family: King Felipe, Queen Letizia and Infanta Sofía. The royals had landed about 30 minutes earlier at the Zaragoza airport, and driven to the Academy, located on the outskirts of the city.
While the King was dressed in his C-type military uniform, the Queen and her daughters opted for casual summer styles: Queen Letizia chose a neutral linen suit and taupe flats, Infanta Sofía was wearing a green blouse with white trousers and tennis shoes, while the Princess chose a light blue shirt, coordinating with her sister in the choice of white trousers and trainers.
The family’s first stop was the signing of the book of honour, which was already opened up on a page that read “HRH the Princess of Asturias, Leonor de Borbón y Ortiz, on the day of her arrival at the General Military Academy to begin her military education”. The Princess signed under the watchful eye of not just one, but two King Felipes. For while her dad was to one side, above her was a portrait of her father in his full military uniform, as is customary in all military installations across Spain.
Then it was time to pose for some pictures and answer a few questions from the many journalists gathered behind the barriers. Princess Leonor admitted to being a bit nervous, as well as very eager to begin this new chapter of her life.
King Felipe intervened and said that it is normal to be nervous. He also added that he gave her a lot of practical tips, seen as though he went through the same thing 38 years ago, but that the most important were “to be careful, to let superiors guide her and to stick together with the rest of her classmates, especially for the first few days”.
After sharing emotional final hugs with everyone (King Felipe first, then Infanta Sofía, and finally Queen Letizia, who seemed to be the most reluctant to see her go), it was time for the Princess to join the rest of her class, which consists of 610 young people. The Royal House released a few images of the Princess with the rest of her classmates, carrying her luggage up a flight of stairs to enter the facility.
According to the Academy itself, there are 2, 4 or 12-beds rooms for students to share, and their daily routine will start at 6:30am and end at 11pm. Women are allowed to wear makeup, but only “natural looks”. Only transparent nail polish is permitted and they have to wear their hair in their natural colour in updos that also allow for the correct placement of the uniform’s headpiece.
And so, after much anticipation, the heir to the Spanish throne has begun a new era in her journey. She is set to turn 18 on the 31st of October, amid much uncertainty about what this coming of age will entail concretely: will she appear in front of congress to swear her loyalty to the Constitution and the country? Will there even be a Parliament to do so? (King Felipe will begin consultations shortly to form a new Government following last month’s elections – a task that appears to be a difficult one, given that neither political side seems to have the numbers to form a solid majority).
King Felipe and Queen Letizia also have another tough goodbye ahead of them, as Infanta Sofía prepares to leave for Wales at the end of the month, where she will attend UWC Atlantic, the same college where her older sister spent her last 2 years of high school.