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Princess Leonor’s family album: Spanish royals release intimate photos charting future Queen’s path from cherubic toddler to confident monarch-in-waiting ahead of her 18th birthday


The Spanish royal family has released a series of unseen photos to mark Princess Leonor‘s 18th birthday.

The future queen, who reaches the milestone on Tuesday,  is seen celebrating Spain‘s World Cup win in 2012, awaiting her younger sister’s birth in 2007 and before her graduation at Atlantic College in the Vale of Glamorgan this year.

With solo engagements, speeches and military training under her belt, it certainly seems the daughter of Queen Letizia and King Felipe of Spain is being prepared to take a bigger role in the spotlight ahead of her 18th birthday.

The future queen has been making solo appearances and training at the General Military Academy in Zaragoza to ensure she’s ready for the throne.

The royal and her sister Infanta Sophia, 16, have been taking a bigger role in the spotlight as they come of age – with Leonor giving yearly speeches at the Princess of Asturias awards and often taking centre stage at family outings.  

The Spanish royal family has released a series of unseen photos to mark Princess Leonor 's 18th birthday. Leonor is pictured with her mother Queen Letizia, father King Felipe and sister Infanta Sofia

The Spanish royal family has released a series of unseen photos to mark Princess Leonor ‘s 18th birthday. Leonor is pictured with her mother Queen Letizia, father King Felipe and sister Infanta Sofia 

The young princesses are pictured celebrating Spain's Euros win in 2012

The young princesses are pictured celebrating Spain’s Euros win in 2012

Leonor is seen as a baby sitting on the stairs of the palace in one of the many new photos

Leonor is seen as a baby sitting on the stairs of the palace in one of the many new photos

 One image shows Leonor as a seven-day old baby swaddled up in silk and lace, another shows her, aged nine, inside the pilot’s seat of a fighter jet at the San Javier air force base in Murcia.

The pictures certainly show the close bond between Leonor and her father Felipe.

Her cherubic cheeks and blonde curly locks are on show in a snap showing her first fay at the Royal Guard Children’s School, which is on the grounds of the El Pardo Palace.

Another, she patiently sits by her father as he signs the book at the General Air Academy in Murcia. A sweet snap from January 2018 shows the future queen curtseying to her father at ceremony of imposition of the Necklace of the Distinguished Order of the Golden Fleece. Her mother and sister look on.

Her first speech – aged just 13 – at the Princess of Asturias awards is also captured, while various sweet loving looks like her father are also included.

A visit to an education centre in 2020, state tributes to the victims of Covid-19 as well as meeting members of the public, the Spanish women’s football team are included.

While her celebrations will be decidedly low-key compared to other European royals, there will be some fanfare however.

The Royal Mint of Spain will create a limited edition 40-euro coin to mark her birthday. Up to one million of the coins will be put into circulation by the Bank of Spain during the last three months of this year.

A sweet snap from January 2018 shows the future queen curtseying to her father at ceremony of imposition of the Necklace of the Distinguished Order of the Golden Fleece

A sweet snap from January 2018 shows the future queen curtseying to her father at ceremony of imposition of the Necklace of the Distinguished Order of the Golden Fleece

Another picture shows her as a newborn straight after coming home from hospital

Another picture shows her as a newborn straight after coming home from hospital

Her cherubic cheeks and blonde curly locks are on show in a snap showing her first fay at the Royal Guard Children¿s School, which is on the grounds of the El Pardo Palace

Her cherubic cheeks and blonde curly locks are on show in a snap showing her first fay at the Royal Guard Children’s School, which is on the grounds of the El Pardo Palace

Leonor is seen, aged nine, inside the pilot's seat of a fighter jet at the San Javier air force base in Murcia

Leonor is seen, aged nine, inside the pilot’s seat of a fighter jet at the San Javier air force base in Murcia

The coin will weigh 18 grams and be made of a mixture of silver and copper with the effigy ‘Her Royal Highness the Princess of Asturias’ engraved on it.

The 17-year-old is currently undergoing military training at the General Military Academy in Zaragoza.

The school dubbed Spain’s equivalent to Sandhurst and follows a strict timetable, but the princess is able to return home at the weekends if she is not on manoeuvres.

Before starting at the academy, she took place in her first engagement without her parents as she headed to Gironda with sister Sofia.

She has also cut a professional figure at the Princess of Asturias Awards.

The UNESCO-approved awards reward scientific, technical, cultural, social and humanitarian work. She has delivered a speech at each one since the age of 13.

After the Princess’s year in Zaragoza, before moving to a naval school and will then spend her third and final year of training at the General Air Academy.

Doting daughter Leonor looks at her father during a military ceremony

Doting daughter Leonor looks at her father during a military ceremony 

The princess has been stepping up and into the spotlight more and more

The princess has been stepping up and into the spotlight more and more 

The royal is seen greeting well-wishers

The royal is seen greeting well-wishers

The heir to the Spanish throne will become commander-in-chief of the armed forces once she is monarch.

Snaps shared by the Royal Household last month suggested that this is a role Leonor will be comfortable in- despite saying she was feeling ‘a little nervous’ when she was dropped off at military school.

One of the snaps, taken during a training exercise, shows the princess smiling with her fellow cadets, while dressed in fatigues and holding what appears to be an automatic rifle.

Another of the photos shows her posing with fellow students, dressed in camo and protective gear.

The princess revealed her enthusiasm for being a cadet at the Princesa de Girona Foundation award ceremony in Girona, in Catalonia, on July 5.

She said: ‘I have just finished high school and I am about to start a new stage with a period of military training.

‘I am happy because I know how much the Spanish value our armed forces… it is an important moment in my life and I feel very excited and determined to continue learning and giving my best effort.’

Leonor is seen with her father as he signs a book at the General Air Academy in Murcia, 2014

Leonor is seen with her father as he signs a book at the General Air Academy in Murcia, 2014

The royal is seen visiting an education centre with her mother in August 2020

The royal is seen visiting an education centre with her mother in August 2020

The royal joined her family to mourn Covid victims during a state tribute

The royal joined her family to mourn Covid victims during a state tribute

Meanwhile, to celebrate turning 18 Princess Leonor will also receive the symbolic Collar of the Order of Charles III from her father on her birthday.

The Collar is a historic gift, created by Carlos III in 1771, and represents the possibility that Princess Leonor will one day assume the crown.

King Felipe VI received the Collar of the Order of Charles III on his 18th birthday in January 1986.

Princess Leonor will be given it in a ceremony attended by the royal family, senators and elected representatives. This will be the second honour the Princess of Asturias has received from her father King Felipe VI.

Aged just 13, the Princess gave her first speech at the Princess of Asturias awards

Aged just 13, the Princess gave her first speech at the Princess of Asturias awards

Leonor appears to be following in her mother's very stylish footsteps (pictured together)

Leonor appears to be following in her mother’s very stylish footsteps (pictured together)

Leonor is seen meeting the Spanish women's football team during the world cup

Leonor is seen meeting the Spanish women’s football team during the world cup

In 2015, on the day before her tenth birthday, he granted her the Order Of The Golden Fleece. The Order Of The Golden Fleece is a Catholic order of chivalry that was established in 1430 by the Duke of Burgundy.

Princess Leonor’s 18th birthday celebrations will mark the end of a busy month for the heir to the Spanish throne.

Before starting at the military academy, Princess Leonor was a pupil at the UWC Atlantic College in the Welsh county of Vale of Glamorgan.

The school is often referred to as ‘Hippie Hogwarts’ thanks to its progressive approach to education and picturesque castle setting.

Leonor’s sister, Infanta Sofía of Spain, 16, began her studies at UWC Atlantic this autumn.

The royal is a lookalike of her mother Letizia (pictured together recently)

The royal is a lookalike of her mother Letizia (pictured together recently)

Leonor and Sofía before her graduation from Atlantic College - known as 'Hippie Hogwarts'

Leonor and Sofía before her graduation from Atlantic College – known as ‘Hippie Hogwarts’

In September last year the Spanish palace announced that Princess Leonor will go to university to study law once her three years of military training have been completed.

While Leonor’s choice of university is unknown, the Princess’s academic background already bears a resemblance to that of her father King Felipe.

After graduating from high school at Lakefield College in Canada, Felipe returned to Spain and attended the General Military Academy of Zaragozo, and went on to study at the Naval Military School in Marín.

He ended his training with a stint at the General Air Academy in San Javier.

His also completed his military training with a stint on the shop Juan Sebastián Elcano aged 18 in 1987, and went on to study law at the Autonomous University of Madrid.



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