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Why is the heir to the Spanish throne also known as Princess of Girona?

© Casa de SM el Rey

Later this week, Princess Leonor will preside over the Princess of Girona Foundation Awards with her family. Among her titles as heir to the Spanish throne is ‘Princess of Girona,’ so today, we’re going to look at why the Spanish heir receives that title.

Historically, the Prince or Princess of Girona was the heir to the Crown of Aragon. This kingdom originated in 1162 and was a powerful kingdom until its dissolution in 1716 when it was combined, along with Castile, to form the kingdom of Spain and was ruled over by a centralised monarch.

A title referencing Girona dates to 1351, when King Peter IV of Aragon designated the use of Duke of Girona for his heir. In 1416, Ferdinand I of Aragon elevated the title to Prince of Girona; but it later fell out of use and was revived in the 20th century when the heir of the kingdom of Spain began to use subsidiary titles.

Today, the heir of the Spanish throne has a host of titles at their disposal, though they are most commonly known as the Prince or Princess of Asturias as their main title.

As the current heir, Princess Leonor’s full title is: Her Royal Highness Leonor de Todos los Santos de Borbón y Ortiz, Princess of Asturias, Princess of Girona, Princess of Viana, Duchess of Montblanc, Countess of Cervera and Lady of Balaguer.

Princess Leonor’s other titles relate to the principalities, duchies, counties, and lordships that make up the Spanish Crown. Princess of Viana refers to the former kingdom of Navarre; Duchess of Montblanc refers to the Principality of Catalonia; Countess of Cervera refers to the Kingdom of Valencia; and Lady of Balaguer refers to the Kingdom of Mallorca.

As Princess of Girona, Princess Leonor acts as the honorary chairman of the Princess of Girona Foundation, though while she is still a minor, her father, King Felipe, carries out these duties on her behalf.

The Princess of Girona Foundation—formerly the Prince of Girona Foundation when Felipe was still the heir to the throne—was founded in 2009 and works to support young people in their personal and professional development. The Foundation operates on a national level but was founded in Girona by civil society entities and is backed by trustees.

Every year, the Foundation presents the Princess of Girona Foundation Awards to honour young people between the ages of 16-35 who “stand out for their work, their merits and their exemplarity,” according to the official website.

There are five awards: the Social Award, presented to those who want to integrate marginalised groups or those who are at risk of social exclusion; the Scientific Research Award, presented to young scientists working on innovative projects that show promise for future development; the Arts and Literature Award, presented to young people who produce inspiring and promising work within the arts; the Business Award, presented to young people with entrepreneurial promise and an original and viable business project; and the International Award, the only award chosen from nominations.

Princess Leonor will attend the Princess of Girona Foundation Awards on 1 July at the CaixaForum Barcelona, an art gallery, along with her parents and sister Infanta Sofía. Prior to the ceremony, she will meet with the winners from 2020 and 2021.

Princess Leonor first attended the Princess of Girona Foundation Awards in 2019 and gave a speech, partially in the local language Catalan, saying, “This land, Catalonia, will always occupy a special place in my heart.

“Since childhood, my sister, the Infanta Sofía, and me, our parents have always told us about Girona and Catalonia always with real affection. Thanks to them, we know many things about Catalan history and culture.

“As Princess of Girona, I want to honour the Foundation as it deserves. And proudly bear its name throughout Catalonia, for the rest of Spain and worldwide.”

About author

Jess is the Senior Royal Reporter and Editorial Assistant at Royal Central. Her interest in royalty started in her teenage years, coinciding with The Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002 and grew from there. She specializes in the British Royal Family (with emphasis on the Cambridges) and the Danish Royal Family, and has provided royal commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the UK and Australia.