On 24 March Leonor, the Princess of Asturias, will undertake her first solo engagement. The Spanish heir to the throne will only turn 16 in October of this year. As far as I remember she will be the very first European (future) heir to the throne under the age of 18 to go solo. Thus far Leonor only appeared in public accompanied by her parents King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia and her younger sister Infanta Sofia. But it was apparently time for a solo appearance, and anyway her parents will go on a two-day state visit to Andorra on Thursday, so they might be a bit busy.
It is interesting to see how different the European monarchies deal with the public appearances of their children and teenagers. In the Netherlands for example the three daughters of King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima, the Princesses Amalia, Alexia and Ariane, only appear in public on King’s Day and for the yearly photo sessions. Very seldomly their parents take them with them on other occasions, usually these are sports competitions or family events. They keep them out of the public eye and give them the possibility to have a childhood as normal as possible. The Princess of Orange, Amalia, aged 17, has not yet had her first real engagement.
More or less the same happens in Belgium, but since King Philippe and Queen Mathilde became the royal couple in 2013 they appear a bit more. Apart from the National Day, an occasional palace concert, Princess Elisabeth, Prince Gabriel, Prince Emmanuel and Princess Eléonore once in a while also unannounced come along with (one of) their parents for engagements. Elisabeth, the Duchess of Brabant, already several times had own engagements, although always accompanied by her parents.
We see the opposite in Denmark and Sweden, and to a somewhat less extend in Norway, where the royal children regularly appear in the news. It is not unusual to see the children at important engagements and especially during more private theatre visits or other events. Quite a difference from The Netherlands and Belgium where private is private. It is hard to say what they’ll do in the United Kingdom, as the Cambridge children are still quite young. I actually enjoy it to see how Princess Estelle of Sweden is already playfully getting used to being in the limelight. And Princess Ingrid Alexandra of Norway, just 17, also already had a few engagements, always accompanied by family members.
On can wonder what the best way of introducing royal children to public life. While I think people already expect a bit too much from the Spanish princesses Leonor and Sofia, who come along to events way to serious for teenagers, I am not a fan of the Dutch method either. Nothing seems to be wrong with occasionally bringing your children with you to somewhat lighter engagements or let them have their own engagements, accompanied by either parents or grandparents. But I think they shouldn’t be taken along all the time either. What are your thoughts about this dilemma?