Princess Leonor of Spain turned 18 this October 31, and to celebrate, she received a symbolic gift steeped in centuries of royal tradition: the Collar of the Order of Charles III.
This ornate necklace has deep significance for the Spanish monarchy, and Leonor’s induction into the Order represents her coming of age as heir to the throne.
Princess Leonor receives the Collar of the Order of Charles III
The Order of Charles III dates back to 1771 when it was created by King Charles III to honor virtue and merit demonstrated for the benefit of Spain and the Crown.
The Collar, the highest distinction of the Order, is reserved for members of the Spanish Royal Family, such as Leonor.
It consists of 41 links that represent Charles III and bears his royal coat of arms along with other royal symbols such as lions, castles, and war trophies in enamel and gold.
From the central medallion hangs the cross of the order studded with fleurs-de-lis and crowned with golden spheres and laurels. The obverse shows a relief of the Immaculate Conception, while the reverse bears the motto of Charles III “Virtue and Merit”.
When a successor to the throne turns 18, he or she traditionally receives the collar of the Order of Charles III from the hands of the reigning monarch in an official ceremony.
Leonor’s father, King Felipe VI, presented her with the necklace at the Palacio de las Cortes, reflecting his own experience of coming of age.
Felipe received the Order’s necklace from his father Juan Carlos I in 1986.
For Leonor, the necklace marks an important transition. Previously, as heiress, she would have needed a regency to accede to the throne before coming of age.
The solemn induction into the prestigious Order of Charles III signifies Leonor’s dedication to the service of the Spanish people. Now, at the age of 18, Leonor can reign in her own right if necessary.
Princess Leonor’s Speech after receiving the Collar of the Order of Charles III
After receiving the Collar of the Order of Charles III, Leonor gave an emotional speech in which she thanked the distinction granted on such a special day.
Below is the complete speech of Leonor, Princess of Asturias:
I would like to thank the President of the Government and the Ministers for having offered me the Collar of the Order of Carlos III, a distinction so closely linked to the service of the State and to our parliamentary monarchy. From today I incorporate its valuable motto -virtue and merit- to my condition of Princess of Asturias and heir to the Crown.
Thank you also, Madam President of the Congress of Deputies and Mr. President of the Senate, for awarding me the medals of the chambers that unite me, from this momentous day, to the institutions that represent the Spanish people, holder of national sovereignty.
Your Majesties, authorities.
On turning 18 today, and reaching the age of majority, I have taken the oath provided for in our Constitution. I have sworn to faithfully perform my duties, to keep and uphold the Constitution and the laws, to respect the rights of the citizens and of the autonomous communities, as well as loyalty to the King.
I have solemnly, formally and publicly committed myself to our democratic principles and constitutional values, which I fully assume. And I have assumed a great responsibility to Spain before the Cortes Generales, which I hope to fulfill with the utmost dignity and with the best example.
I have also sworn an oath of loyalty to the King. Not only to his person, but also to what the Crown symbolizes and represents: the unity and permanence of Spain. I remember very well what my father, the King, told me when he imposed the Golden Fleece on me: “You will be permanently guided by the Constitution, complying with it and observing it, you will serve Spain with humility and conscious of your institutional position”. These are words that I will keep very much in mind at all times.
With that spirit and with a great sense of duty:
– I will conduct my actions in all areas of my life always attending to the general interests of our Nation;
– I will conduct myself in a manner worthy of the recognition and esteem of the citizens;
– And I will fulfill my obligations with total dedication and unconditional devotion, always trying to grow as a person with the affection and support of my family.
I owe myself from today to all Spaniards, whom I will serve at all times with respect and loyalty. There is no greater pride. On this important day -which I will always remember with emotion- I ask you to place your trust in me, as I have placed all my trust in our future, in the future of Spain.
Thank you very much.