The 14-year-old Spanish princess spoke at the Princess of Girona Foundation awards in Barcelona amid a backdrop of anti-royal street protests aimed at her father, King Felipe.

By Phil Boucher
November 04, 2019 04:27 PM
Credit: Robert Marquardt/Getty

Princess Leonor of Spain is not your average teen.

The 14-year-old heir to the Spanish throne — nicknamed Spain’s “Disney Princess” for her flowing blonde locks — delivered an important speech at the Princess of Girona Foundation awards in Barcelona on Monday amid a backdrop of anti-royal street protests aimed at her father, King Felipe Vi, 51. (Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia, a semi-autonomous region in northeast Spain whose push for independence has resulted in the country’s biggest political crisis in decades.)

To make matters even more daunting, Leonor — who holds the title of Princess of Girona — also delivered the speech in English and Catalan, as opposed to her native Spanish.

“From a very young age, our parents have told us about Catalonia,” Leonor said in her speech, according to El Pais. “Thanks to them we know more about Catalan history and culture. This land, Catalonia, will always occupy a special place in my heart.”

Princess Leonor

The Princess of Girona Foundation honors the outstanding achievements of people aged 16 to 35 years old from all corners of the world. On Monday this included MIT engineer Hugh Herr, called the “Leader of the Bionic Age” because of his revolutionary work in developing bionic limbs that emulate the function of natural limbs.

“It is the first time that I speak in an act of the Princess of Girona,” Leonor added in her speech. “It is an honor for me because we are almost the same age.

“I want to congratulate the winners, this year and those of previous years. You form a great family that will continue to grow thanks to your generosity. You are an example for young people throughout Spain.”

Princess Leonor, King Felipe VI, Queen Letizia and Princess Sofia
Princess Leonor and King Felipe VI

Leonor and King Felipe, who on Saturday, were joined at the event by Leonor’s younger sister Princess Sofia, 12, and mom Queen Letizia, 46, who took to the stage in a fitted black suit paired with matching heels.

A large security operation was put in place for the royal visit to Barcelona, which has been the focal point of intense street protests since a Madrid court jailed the region’s separatist leaders on October 14. Upon his arrival for the opening of the technology fair on Saturday, Felipe faced protesters chanting anti-monarchist slogans.

Princess Leonor
King Felipe VI, Princess Leonor, Queen Letizia and Princess Sofia

King Felipe is particularly disliked among independence supporters because of criticism he aimed at the Catalan leaders in a public address in 2017, shortly after an independence rally in Barcelona descended into violence.

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“The words that our daughter has spoken today are full of great joy,” King Felipe said in a speech at the event. “She assumes her obligations with enthusiasm and a sense of duty. And she does it from a city and land that occupies a very important place in our hearts.”