Spain’s heir to the throne, Princess Leonor, swears allegiance to Constitution at ceremony with notable absences

THE HEIR to the Spanish throne, Princess Leonor, today swore allegiance to the Constitution at a major state ceremony in the lower house of parliament, the Congress of Deputies. She did so on the occasion of her 18th birthday, which is today October 31, and saw her follow in the footsteps of her father, King Felipe VI. 

During the proceedings, she promised to ‘faithfully carry out my duties, to keep and uphold the Constitution and the laws and respect the rights of citizens and the autonomous regions and loyalty to the king’.

The ceremony, which drew crowds in the centre of Madrid and was widely televised, is designed to represent the continuity of Spain’s parliamentary monarchy, as well as the allegiance of the Royal Family’s allegiance to the cortes, as the Congress and upper house, the Senate, are known in Spanish. 

The swearing of allegiance by the future monarch is stipulated within the Spanish Constitution, on the day that he or she turns 18. Assuming that Leonor ascends to the throne, she is due to become the first queen of Spain in more than 150 years. 

The ceremony paves the way for Leonor de Borbon to become queen, head of state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. To prepare her for that latter role, she is currently undergoing three years of military training, spending 12 months each in the army, air force and navy. 

Leonor, who is the Princess of Asturias, swore her oath using the same copy of Spain’s Magna Carta as her father did back on January 30, 1986, when the country’s democracy was still in its infancy after the death of former dictator Francisco Franco back in 1975. 

“I am committed to our democratic principles and to our constitutional values, which I fully assume,” the princess said after the ceremony at the Royal Palace in Madrid. “I ask you to have confidence in me, just as I have placed all of my trust in our future.” 

Spain's royal family
EFE / Cordon Press

The Congress of Deputies was packed with politicians and dignitaries for the ceremony on Tuesday, but there were notable absences. 

The most significant of these was her grandfather, the self-styled emeritus king Juan Carlos I, who abdicated the throne in 2014 in the midst of scandal, and has been living in self-imposed exile since 2020 after a series of allegations of financial wrongdoing piled up against him. 

Also missing from Tuesday’s proceedings was Juan Carlos’s estranged wife, Queen Sofia. Both were invited, however, to a private celebration after the very public proceedings. 

Several political parties also opted to skip the ceremony. The Socialist Party and the Popular Party, Spain’s two main political formations, were in attendance, as was the far-right Vox. 

But leftist groups such as Podemos and the United Left, which now form part of the alliance Sumar, declined to attend given their anti-monarchy, republican stance. 

The caretaker prime minister, Pedro Sanchez of the Socialist Party, participated in the ceremony, and was accompanied by practically the entire Cabinet with the exception of acting ministers Ione Belarra and Irene Montero from Podemos, and Alberto Garzon from the United Left, which is Spain’s communist party. 

“With Princess Leonor’s oath, Spain today reaffirms the strength of its institutions and of its democracy, which is based on the constitutional principles of coexistence, equality, liberty and political pluralism,” Sanchez wrote in a message published on social media. 

Also missing from the event were representatives of nationalist parties such as the Catalan Republican Left and Together for Catalunya, both of which want independence for the northeastern region, as well as EH Bildu and the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), which want the same for the northern Basque Country. Along with King Felipe VI, Leonor’s mother, Queen Letizia, and sister, the infanta Sofia, were in attendance.

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