Princess Leonor de Borbón y Ortiz, the elder daughter of King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia, and heir presumptive to the throne of Spain, will complete her Bachillerato (the post-16 stage of education in Spain prior to university) in Wales in the United Kingdom. That’s according to a press release issued by the Spanish Royal Household on Wednesday. The 15-year-old, who holds the official title of Princess of Asturias, will study the two-year International Baccalaureate program with the United World College (UWC) education movement at UWC Atlantic College.
According to the statement from the royal household, in order to be accepted into the college, Princess Leonor had to undergo a selection process required by the Spanish Committee of the UWC. This process consists of an initial pre-selection phase, which is done anonymously by each candidate, followed by a final phase of different tests, which is completed remotely.
UWC Atlantic College in Wales is a boarding school located in a medieval castle. Like the other students, Princess Leonor will attend as a boarder. According to the royal household, the school is “characterized by its open and critical spirit” and “has no religious, political or other kinds of leaning.”
According to the royal household, UWC Atlantic College is “characterized by its open and critical spirit” and “has no religious, political or other kinds of leaning”
Up until now, Princess Leonor has studied at the private school Nuestra Señora de los Rosales, which her father attended and where her younger sister, the Infanta Sofía, is also currently enrolled. The cost of the Bachillerato in Wales is £67,000 (€76,500), and will be covered by King Felipe and Queen Letizia. Princess Leonor will start the course between the end of August and the beginning of September. In its statement, the royal household said the move, which marks a new stage for the princess, is compatible with “the progressive development of her institutional commitments to Spain.” King Felipe informed Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of the decision. This is the first substantial change in Princess Leonor’s education, which until now has closely followed her father’s path. King Felipe, however, waited to finish his Bachillerato before leaving Spain to continue his studies.
Over the last 12 months, Princess Leonor has taken on a more prominent role in public. She accompanied King Felipe on official events and took part in several initiatives relating to the coronavirus pandemic, including a video, in which she and her sister thanked health workers for their efforts in fighting the virus. Last year, one of Princess Leonor’s classmates tested positive for coronavirus and her entire class had to be quarantined. After self-isolating and being tested for the virus, the 15-year-old returned to school.
When Princess Leonor comes of age, she will also begin to receive military training. As was the case with her father, these courses will be specifically designed for her to allow her to spend time with the navy, the army and the air force. The Spanish Constitution outlines that the king or queen of Spain is also the head of the armed forces.
“Leonor is leaving Spain, like her granddad”
A television news banner regarding the announcement of Princess Leonor’s imminent studies in Wales sparked heated controversy on Wednesday. When reporting the story, the news program La Hora de La 1 on Spain’s state-owned public service TV broadcaster TVE showed an image of Princess Leonor with a banner reading “Leonor is leaving Spain, like her granddad.” The message was a reference to Spain’s emeritus king, Juan Carlos I, who left Spain last year amid a scandal over his alleged financial irregularities. On August 17, the royal household confirmed that the former monarch is in the United Arab Emirates.
The banner was heavily criticized on social media, with users calling it an attack against the monarchy and children rights. Political parties, such as the conservative Popular Party (PP), and media organizations also spoke out against the message. In response to the controversy, the interim manager of TVE, Rosa María Mateo, offered an apology for the “serious mistake” and said that those responsible for it would be relieved from their posts.