Why is Spain's princess doing military service?

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Why is Spain's princess doing military service?
Spanish Crown Princess of Asturias Leonor delivers a speech during the 2022 Princess of Asturias award ceremony at the Campoamor theatre in Oviedo. Photo: MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP.

Following in her father's footsteps, Spain's Princess Leonor is undertaking three years of military training as part of preparations to one day succeed the Spanish throne.


Spain's Princess Leonor is currently doing a sort of military service as part of her training to one day take over the Spanish monarchy.

Princess Leonor, full name Leonor de Borbón y Ortiz, is the Princess of Asturias and first in line to the Spanish throne because she is the first born daughter of King Felipe VI and Queen Leticia.

The Princess began her military training at the General Military Academy of the Spanish Army in Zaragoza in late-summer. The King and Queen of Spain, along with her younger sister, the Infanta Sofia, accompanied the Princess as she arrived at the academy, where she will complete the first stage of her military training.

The Queen in waiting told the press she was "really looking forward" to starting her training but also had a "bit of nerves."

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The General Military Academy in Zaragoza, founded in 1882, has trained more than 29,000 officers of the Army, Civil Guard and Spanish Armed Forces Corps over the years.

For three years, the Princess will train in the three branches of the Spanish military: air, land, and naval forces. Her military training will not, however, impact on her university studies. This was something emphasised by Spain's defence minister Margarita Robles, who announced it to the press following a Council of Ministers meeting when the decree was originally announced earlier in the year.


Why is Spain’s princess doing military service?

So why is Spain's Princess and heir to the throne doing military training?

In short, Leonor's eventual succession to the throne means that she will have not only assume the formal functions and responsibilities of representing Spain at home and abroad, but she will also become "capitán general" of all the Spanish Armed Forces, so must be familiar with the workings of the armed forces and their different branches, as per the requirements of the Spanish constitution.

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The military training of heirs to the throne is outlined in Article 2 of Spain's Military Career Law, which states that:

"The Prince of Asturias may pursue a military career and hold such military posts as may be determined by Royal Decree by the government, which is empowered to establish a separate and differentiated regime, taking into account the requirements of his high representation and his/her status as heir to the Crown of Spain".


Princess Leonor is following in the footsteps of her father, King Felipe VI, who also trained with the three military branches while preparing for the throne. The King is regularly seen at public events in military uniform.

Leonor will spend her first year of training with the army, the second year in the navy, and her third in the Spanish Air Force.

Her second year will be spent at the Marín Naval School in Pontevedra, Galicia, from where she will embark on the navy training ship Juan Sebastián Elcano.

The third year of the princess's military training will be at the General Air and Space Academy in San Javier in Murcia.

In October, with her army training well underway, the Spanish media reported that the Princess had already reached a new milestone in her military career, receiving the beret grancé after passing a series of physical tests that all cadets take including learn to walk in formation at a brisk pace reciting military songs and chants, and diving into a swimming pool in uniform and performing tasks.


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