Members of royal families live in the spotlight and don’t have much privacy. They are often put on display as young children and must behave in a way that dutifully represents the family. These young men and women must also cope with the fame that comes with being royalty.
Princess Leonor of Spain is one of the lucky few who has had a somewhat private childhood. But she’s a growing teenager now and is slowly taking on more responsibilities on behalf of her country. Check out some new (and a few throwback) photos of Leonor, the heiress presumptive to the throne.
Leonor Was Not Born A Princess
Leonor has many other titles, including Duchess of Montblanc, Countess of Cervera, and Lady of Balaguer. She’s also been called Spain’s Disney Princess because of her blonde hair and blue eyes. She is the oldest child of King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia and was born on October 31, 2005.
Leonor’s younger sister Sofía was born on April 29, 2007. When Leonor was born, her grandfather, King Juan Carlos, was ruling the country so she technically was not born a princess.
Her Mother Is The First Spanish Queen To Be Born A Commoner
Many people were stunned in 2003 when the royal household announced that Felipe, then Prince of Asturias, was to marry Letizia Ortiz. The future king proposed to his bride-to-be with a 16-baguette diamond ring. In return, Letizia gave him gold and sapphire cufflinks. She lived in the Zarzuela Palace until their wedding day.
When the couple tied the knot on May 22, 2004, it was the first royal wedding in Madrid in nearly 100 years. Letizia is the first Spanish-born queen consort since Mercedes of Orléans.
Her Mother Was A Successful Journalist
Leonor’s mother, Queen Letizia of Spain, is from a middle-class family. She was a journalist and news anchor before she married Felipe in 2004. She was a divorcee when she wed the future king of Spain. Letizia officially became a queen in 2014 after her father-in-law abdicated.
Leonor was born the year following her parents’ marriage. Although premature, she was a healthy infant. However, she had a tumor on her nose for a short period of time. The good news is that the tumor was benign.
Leonor And Her Younger Sister Are Very Close
Leonor was born the daughter of the heir apparent via a cesarean section. She was second in the line of succession to the Spanish throne. Her father ascended the throne in 2014 after his father, King Juan Carlos I, abdicated for personal reasons.
Since Leonor and her sister are only two years apart in age, they are very close to each another. They have led rather private lives without much scrutiny from the media.
She Lives With Her Family At Zarzuela Palace
Leonor and her sister Sofia live with their parents at Zarzuela Palace, which is located on the outskirts of Madrid. Her father has his office at the palace, and the family resides in a mansion on the grounds. Leonor’s grandparents live in the palace itself, which is a former hunting estate.
The mansion is 33,900-square feet and is frequently used as the backdrop of official photoshoots. It was built in the 17th century and is named after the word “zarzas,” which means brambles.
Leonor Is Fluent In Spanish And English And Speaks Some Mandarin
The royal family emphasizes education, and Leonor started primary school in September of 2008. She attends the Santa María de los Rosales School in Aravaca, which is not far from Madrid. It is the same school that her father attended, and her sister is also a student there.
Leonor speaks Spanish and English fluently and has also dabbled in Mandarin. When her father ascended the throne in summer 2014, Leonor became the heir presumptive and officially the Princess of Asturia.
She Is Athletic Like Her Father
Leonor is reportedly quite athletic and is particularly good at tennis. And when she spent time at a summer camp in the United States, she became very proficient at sailing and gymnastics. It’s clear that she inherited some of her sporting abilities from her father.
When Felipe was a young man, he was also athletic. While he was Prince of Asturias, he represented Spain at the 1992 summer Olympics in Barcelona as a member of the sailing team.
She Is Not Guaranteed To inherit The Throne
The people of Spain adore Leonor, who not only performs well academically but also plays the cello and has a charming fashion sense. But while the people of Spain think she’s great, that doesn’t mean she is guaranteed to inherit the throne. That’s due to the country’s adherence to male-preference cognatic primogeniture.
What this means is if her father has a legitimate son during his reign, the son would become the heir apparent and Leonor would become the “infanta,” a position her sister currently holds.
Many Think It’s Unfair That She Could Be Replaced If A Baby Brother Comes Along
Leonor was just eight years old when her father ascended the throne, making her the heir apparent. And since the king currently only has two daughters, she is the first in line to the throne. People in Spain have talked about changing the male-preference cognatic primogeniture law to absolute primogeniture.
If this were to happen, the inheritor to the throne would no longer be based on gender. Instead, the eldest child, either male or female, would become the heir.
Leonor And Sofia Rarely Made Public Appearances As Young Children
In the meantime, Leonor and her sister are doing a great job in their roles as the heir apparent and infanta. It’s not always easy coming of age in a royal family due to the responsibilities that come along with the position. It probably helped that the pair did not appear in public very often when they were younger.
Leonor and Sofia have led rather sheltered lives, and that makes them even more intriguing to the general public. When they do attend an event, it’s a big deal.
She And Her Sister Are Already Fashion Icons
When a woman is as stylish as Queen Letizia, there’s a good chance that her fashion sense will rub off on her children. And that’s exactly what has happened. Letizia is lauded for her chic wardrobe choices, and her sense of style has been passed on to her two daughters.
Both Leonor and Sofia look impeccable when they make public appearances. The siblings often wear outfits that complement each other, both in color and style. They also favor Spanish brands such as Mango and Zara.
Leonor Has Had A Fairly Normal Childhood
Leonor and her father are very similar in that they’re both curious yet prudent and responsible. Her parents have ensured that she and her sister had a relatively normal childhood. The girls shared a bedroom and do not watch much television.
One hobby that Leonor enjoys is photography, something she may have inherited from her former journalist mother. She often brings a camera with her when she travels to take pictures of local scenery.
She Was Granted The Order Of The Golden Fleece At Age 9
One the day before her 10th birthday, her father, King Felipe, inducted her into the Order of the Golden Fleece. She was officially given the collar of the Golden Fleece in January 2018 to coincide with her father’s 50th birthday. The collars are made of gold and are worth around $55,000 US dollars.
The Order of the Golden Fleece has two branches, one in Spain and one in Austria. It is a Catholic order of chivalry. Leonor’s father is one of the current grandmasters of the order.
Around Age 14 She Started Making Official Public Appearances
While Leonor and Sofia stayed out of the spotlight as children, they typically attended the National Day parade every year. And when Leonor turned 14, she started taking on more responsibilities.
She made her first public engagement in September 2018. She and her parents traveled to Covadonga to commemorate the 1,300th anniversary of the Kingdom of Asturias. The following month (on her 13th birthday), she read the first article of the Constitution of Spain at the Instituto Cervantes in Madrid. This was her first public speech.
Her Complete Title Is A Mouthful
In October 2019, Leonor delivered a speech at Premio Princesa de Asturias followed by a speech at the Princess of Girona Foundation awards in Barcelona. Remarkably, she spoke in Spanish, Catalan, English, and Arabic, demonstrating her linguistic skills and comfort in front of a large audience.
And lest we forget, Leonor’s entire title is: Her Royal Highness Leonor de Todos los Santos de Borbón y Ortiz, Princess of Asturias, Princess of Gerona, Princess of Viana, Duchess of Montblanc, Countess of Cervera and Lady of Balaguer.
Leonor And Her Family Have A Special Affection For Catalonia
At the Princess of Girona Foundation Awards she told the audience, “From a very young age, to my sister, the Infanta Sofía, and to me, our parents have spoken to us from Girona and Catalonia always with true affection. Thanks to them, we know many things about Catalan history and culture,” she said.
“As Princess of Girona, I want to honor the Foundation as it deserves. And proudly bear its name throughout Catalonia, for the rest of Spain and worldwide.” Leonor added, “This land, Catalonia, will always occupy a special place in my heart.”
Childhood Is Much Different For Leonor Than It Was For Her Father
Felipe made his first public speech as Prince of Asturias in 1981 when he was just 13 years old: “I wanted the first words I say in public in my life to be about Asturias,” he said. Leonor was the same age when she made her first public speech. Yet her life is very different from her father’s.
Felipe was born under a dictatorship, and the country has changed drastically both politically and socially since that time. Also, military service is no longer obligatory, and politicians openly challenge the monarchy. Plus, princes aren’t required to marry princesses.
She Has Already Spent Some Time Abroad
While she is currently attending the same school her father did, it’s unclear whether she will continue to follow her father’s path. He finished high school in Canada, while Leonor and her sister spent some time at a summer camp in the United States. This gave them their first experience with international education.
Leonor may study further overseas at some point, but it’s unknown if or where she will go to college. Her father studied law at the Autonomous University of Madrid.
It’s Unclear When She’ll Be Given An Official Royal Schedule
The public has yet to be informed when Leonor will officially be given her own royal schedule and when she will travel overseas solo. Her father began traveling abroad at the age of 15 when he went to Colombia.
It’s also unknown whether Leonor will join the military as her father did. He joined the armed forces at the age of 17 and stayed in the army for three years. But since military service is no longer compulsory, there’s a good chance Leonor may decide not to join.
Leonor Is Very Calm And Composed When Making Public Appearances
Even though Leonor is new to public speaking, she has already proven that she is very comfortable in front of an audience. If you watch her speeches, it’s clear that she is confident and sure of herself.
When Leonor gave American skier Lindsey Vonn a certificate at a national award event, the princess was very calm and collected. She smiled and appeared very relaxed in the spotlight. Since she’s just starting her life in the public eye, it’s good to know she’s okay with it.