Princess Leonor of Spain turns 18 and formally enters public life

The heir to the throne swears allegiance to the constitution and will now directly become queen after her father King Felipe VI

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Princess Leonor of Spain turned 18 on Tuesday and reached an important milestone within the Spanish monarchy.

The heir to Spain's throne formally stepped into the spotlight by swearing allegiance to the constitution. The ceremony in parliament marked her coming of age, meaning she will now directly become queen after her father King Felipe VI, assuming he does not go on to have any male children.

Arriving at the Spanish parliament, the Cortes Generales in Madrid, accompanied by her father, mother Queen Letizia and younger sister Princess Sofia, the Crown Princess wore a simple pale cream trouser suit.

Double breasted, and matched with pointed pumps, the choice of colour ensured she stood out at the event, making it easy for the waiting crowd to spot her. The only adornment to the suit was a red medal worn on her left lapel.

In contrast, her mother, Queen Letizia, wore a fitted, royal blue knee-length dress, with small gathers on the sleeve and at the waist, while the younger royal, Princess Sofia, also wore a light tone, but as a floral-printed, above-the-knee dress with a cinched waist and cape. King Felipe chose a morning suit for the event.

Looking to her new role as a senior royal and the future queen of Spain, the Crown Princess has vowed to perform her duties, and respect the rights of citizens and autonomous communities. She has also declared her intent to uphold Spanish principles and law.

The modern wording of the declaration was introduced in 1986 for her father, then Prince Felipe, and binds the monarchy to the constitution, in a reflection of how modern Spain is governed by parliament not the crown. The wording is a reversal of historical vows, where parliament swore allegiance to the crown.

In reciting her vows, Princess Leonor becomes the automatic successor to the king, and will be able to take the crown upon his death or if he can no longer perform his duties.

After the ceremony, the princess received the Collar de la Real y Distinguida Orden Espanola de Carlos III – the Royal and Distinguished Spanish Order of Charles III – at the Royal Palace of Madrid, at a formal lunch. The family is also expected to have a private gathering at El Pardo Palace later in the day.

In May, Princess Leonor graduated from UWC Atlantic, a boarding school in Wales, where she studied for the International Baccalaureate, and has now begun officer training in the military.

Building up to today, the Princess has been seen at an increasing number of public events, including the 2023 Princess of Asturias Awards on October 20, which she hosted alone for the first time. She honoured Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami and American actress Meryl Streep among others, and outlined her commitment to her future role in her speech.

“I will have the honour of swearing in the constitution, with what that means for me personally and institutionally. What I can tell you is that I very well understand and am aware of what my duty is and what my responsibilities entail," she said.

The already widespread fascination with the princess, dubbed Leonormania, is expected to reach fever pitch as she embarks on her public life. As part of her birthday celebrations, the palace has released a series of images of the princess with her family, including of her first day at school, alongside her parents.

This snapshot into the hitherto guarded life the princess has enjoyed, can be seen as an acknowledgment that from now on, her life will unfold very much in the public eye.

Updated: October 31, 2023, 2:06 PM