Princess Leonor of Spain is kicking the next stage of her royal training into high gear!
On Thursday, Queen Letizia and King Felipe dropped their eldest daughter off at the General Military Academy of Zaragoza in Aragon, Spain. Princess Leonor, 17, who is the heir to the throne and future queen of Spain, officially begins three years of military training to prepare for her future as the country’s head of state.
Princess Leonor smiled as she arrived at the academy with her parents and 16-year-old sister, Princess Sofia. King Felipe, 55, fittingly wore a military uniform, nodding to his role as Captain General of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force of Spain. King Felipe serves as supreme commander of the Spanish armed forces, his royal bio states, and also previously trained at the General Military Academy of Zaragoza on his road to the Bourbon throne.
In a sweet sign of their tight bond, Queen Letizia, 50, gave Leonor a tight hug and proudly watched on as she shook hands with an official. After saying farewell to her family, the Princess of Asturias wheeled her own suitcase towards check-in.
The Princess also signed a guest book. The page read, “HRH the Princess of Asturias, Leonor de Borbón y Ortiz, on the day of her arrival at the General Military Academy to begin her military training. Leonor, Princess of Asturias.”
The Royal Household of Spain announced in March that Princess Leonor would begin three years of military training after graduating from UWC Atlantic College in Wales. Courtiers said the princess would start her studies at the General Military Academy of Zaragoza and train as a Lady Cadet for the 2023-2024 academic year.
The following year, Princess Leonor will move to the Navy, working as a Midshipman at the Marín Naval Military School and on board the Juan Sebastián de Elcano Training Ship. After that, the royal heir will complete her courses with the Air and Space Army, attending the San Javier General Air Academy as Ensign Student from 2025 to 2026.
The intense program is par for the course for the heir to the Bourbon throne, as King Felipe also studied at multiple military academies and earned Helicopter Pilot Wings from the Army and the Navy.
Princess Leonor will be Spain’s first queen regnant since Queen Isabella II (who reigned from 1833 to 1868) when she accedes one day, and with it, the responsibility of serving as supreme commander of the Spanish armed forces.
Speaking about the significance of Leonor’s military training when the plans were announced, Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles said, “It’s an essential step in the life of Her Royal Highness … toward the leadership of our country,” CNN reported.
After completing the courses, Princess Leonor will be a lieutenant in the Army, Air Force and Space command, as well as an ensign in the Navy, and could continue to college like her dad did.
It’s a rich royal tradition for heirs to earn military experience before acceding to the throne. Princess Elisabeth of Belgium spent the 2020-2021 academic year at Royal Military Academy in Brussels, while Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden brushed up on her own training with the Swedish Armed Forces in 2022.
Like Leonor and Elisabeth (two future queens!), Victoria tackled basic military training at the Swedish Armed Forces International Centre in 2003.
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Fellow heirs Prince William and Crown Prince Hussein attended Royal Military Academy Sandhurst a few years apart. Prince William went on to become a Lieutenant of the Household Cavalry’s Blues and Royals regiment, trained with the Royal Navy and then entered the Royal Air Force and learned to fly helicopters. William served as a Search and Rescue Pilot in Wales from 2010 to 2013, while Crown Prince Hussein is active as a captain in the Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army.