Royal children and public engagements

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?

5 thoughts on “Royal children and public engagements

  1. I agree with you! I also think the way we do it in Norway, and the rest of Scandinavia, is probably the best. Yes, Ingrid Alexandra has already had a few engagements, she started when she was quite young, I don’t remember exactly how old she was at the moment. The King and Queen have said that the Princess says proudly: “I’m going to work”! Children often like to do the same as the adults, and to start at 18 is a little too late … ?

  2. I feel that introducing children to the public in very small steps is important for them to understand what their parents deal with on an almost daily basis, so they’re gently groomed into using the skills they learn at home on a gradually larger basis so public appearances are much easier to comprehend and deal with as their roles evolve from just being seen, to waving, to eventually public speaking a few sentences, to touring the places they need to know about and interacting knowledgeably with their hosts and so on. Their parents understand who’s readier than others to interact with their public. All the rest of us can do is hope the children are at least willing and not forced into what their next steps are in the life they’ve been born into.

    1. Leonor did incredibly well yesterday, but she seems to follow the same path as her father, same age for first speech, same age for first engagement. She looked pretty confident, but it can’t have been easy. Expectations in Spain seem to be pretty high. And even if she wouldn’t want to go in the army it is expected of her that she gets (full?) military training.

      1. Well, little girls are about 2 years more mature than little boys until they reach adolescence and even in their later teen years. That said, hopefully Leonore has had plentiful social grooming in public speaking with tutors and when her family’s hosted important visitors at home and at private events. One hopes her future isn’t so locked-in that she has some wiggle room to achieve the steps she needs to do in her own time rather than at a specific age because of what her dad or other antecedents did them at. Let’s wish her and her siblings well so they’re a quiet success because of good will like ours being sent their way. 😊👍

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