PRINCESS Leonor of Spain bade an emotional goodbye to her parents and sister at Madrid’s Barajas airport on Monday as she headed off to start the new term at an elite boarding school in Wales.
The 15-year-old heir to the Spanish throne is enrolled at UWC Atlantic College in the Vale of Glamorgan where she will study the International Baccalaureate.
King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain took their eldest daughter to Madrid’s Adolfo Suarez Barajas Airport and hugged her goodbye before she made her way to her departure gate.
Her sister Sofia was also there for the send off.
The two-year course involves fees of around €76,500 which will be paid from the royal family’s annual budget and is a favourite choice among Europe’s elite.
Also joining the school at the start of term is Princess Alexia of The Netherlands, while Belgian heir to the throne Elisabeth graduated last year.
The school in Wales, which has been likened to the Hogwarts school for wizards from the Harry Potter books because of its location in a 12th century castle, was purposefully chosen for having no links to any political or religious movement.A
Announcing the choice for the new school last year, Zarzuela Palace said the institution is part of a ‘global movement that makes education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future.’
It is one just one of 18 institutions run by the United World Colleges group spread across four continents and with more than 9,500 students worldwide.
To become a student at a UWC college, students must have a strong academic record and at least a basic knowledge of English, although Leonor, like her father, King Felipe VI, is already fluent in English.
As well as studying for the International Baccalaureate Diploma, students are expected to undertake a programme of experiential learning that focuses on key aspects of ‘peace, a sustainable future, and student initiative’.
It offers alternative activities such as yoga, Tai Chi and Tibetan literature, leading it to be dubbed ‘Hippie Hogwarts’.
The Spanish princess was photographed in the grounds of the school strolling around the surroundings shortly after her arrival.