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The Royal Year in Review

The historic promise of a future queen that dominated Spain’s royal year

Spain’s future queen swore allegiance to her country’s constitution in an historic ceremony that became the central point of her royal family’s year.

Princess Leonor turned 18 on October 31st 2023 and, as required, made her way to the Spanish Parliament to pledge her loyalty to the constitution which became the bedrock of the new democracy established after the end of the dictatorship of Francisco Franco.

The heir to the throne had arrived at the Cortes in a spectacular procession. She travelled in a vintage Rolls Royce, accompanied by her 16 year old sister, Infanta Sofia. It was a moment for the spotlight to shine on the next generation of this sometimes beleaguered royal family and it worked as crowds cheered the two young women through the streets.

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

They were joined by their parents, King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia, outside the parliament where the cheers were more muted. In the weeks before this historic event, King Felipe had come under fire for his decision to ask the socialist leader, Pedro Sanchez, to try and form a government after inconclusive general elections. The coalition put together in response led to protests that included anger against the king in some quarters. However, the presence of his heir, whose popularity had grown throughout the year, muted the political issues, for one day at least.

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

The ceremony took place on October 31st 2023, her 18th birthday. From that moment, she was able reign by herself without a regency and can act as regent should her father, King Felipe VI, require that. Princess Leonor took her solemn oath before the country’s parliament.

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

The princess was given a long standing ovation following her pledge which she made on the same copy of the Constitution as King Felipe had used when he came of age.

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

Following the ceremony, Princess Leonor was presented with medals from the Congress and the Senate before greeting parliamentarians.

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

As Leonor came forward to take her oath, her parents beamed with pride. As she was feted by parliamentarians, King Felipe appeared almost overcome with emotion and reached out to embrace his daughter. And following the ceremony, as he wrote a message for the history books, the Spanish monarch struggled once more to contain his feelings.

The solemn ceremonies were followed by private family celebrations later as the future queen of Spain turned 18. No images were shared of that event but the moment that Leonor, Princess of Asturias, came of age was already marked for the history books.

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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.