United Kingdom

The future Queens of the continent!

This autumn, Princess Leonor, the 15-year-old heir to the Spanish throne, will arrive at the gates of the Welsh boarding school dubbed the 'Hippie Hogwarts' to continue her education. 

Among her classmates, it was revealed yesterday, will be Princess Alexia of The Netherlands, 15, the second daughter of the reigning King Willem-Alexander and his wife Queen Maxima, and currently second-in-line to the Dutch throne. 

UWC Atlantic College, which is situated in a 12th century castle in the Vale of Glamorgan, has a history of educating royal heirs. Belgium's Princess Elisabeth, 19, who will succeed her father King Philippe, is a recent graduate, and Willem-Alexander was a student while still a young prince.

Elisabeth and Leonor are just two of five young princesses who are currently being primed to one day become queen of their respective countries: the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Sweden and Norway. 

Many have benefited from recent changes in constitutional law that allow the eldest child to ascend the throne, regardless of sex. Elisabeth will be Belgium's first ever queen by birth while Princess Ingrid Alexandra will be only the second in Norway's history after the 15th century Princess Margaret.

Here, FEMAIL reveals everything you need to know about the five future queens of Europe, including UWC's new student, Princess Leonor...


Dad's 'right-hand girl': Princess Leonor of Spain, 15, with her father King Felipe last year

Family: King Felipe and Queen Letizia with daughters Leonor, left, and Sofia, 13, last year

Age and position: 15, Heir to the throne

Official title: Leonor, Princess of Asturias 

Parents: King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain

Together with her lookalike younger sister Princess Sofia, Princess Leonor has seen her public profile grow in recent years as she begins to step into her role as a future queen. 

Born in 2005 in Madrid, Leonor is the eldest daughter of King Felipe, 53, who ascended the throne in 2014 on the abdication of his father, Juan Carlos I, and his former news presenter wife Queen Letizia, 48. 

Leonor, who already speaks five languages, has become her father's 'hand-right girl,' taking to her royal duties with 'enormous eagerness,' the king revealed in a recent interview.  

Just like her father, who first spoke publicly as a young prince in 1981, she made her first public speech at just 13 at an event marking the 40th anniversary of the Spanish constitution in 2018. The following year she delivered a speech in four languages. 

Leonor will be able to pursue her interest in languages at the UWC , which offers courses in English and French Literature to Czech, Russian, Tibetan, Swedish and Urdu Literature, as well as others. 

The young princess has adopted her mother's polished style and is often seen in pared back outfits with simple, clean lines. 

In recent months Leonor has been by her mother and father's sides for a number of high profile engagements, including a public memorial for the victims of the Covid-19 pandemic. 


Historic:  When Princess Elisabeth ascends the throne, she will be Belgium's first ever queen by birth. Pictured, the young princess at her 18th birthday celebrations in October 2019

Close family: King Philippe and Queen Mathilde with their children (from left) Princess Elisabeth, Prince Gabriel, Princess Eleanore and Prince Emmanuel on holiday last year

Age and position: 19, Heir to the throne

Official title: Princess Elisabeth, Duchess of Brabant

Parents: King Philippe and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands 

When Princess Elisabeth ascends the throne, she will be Belgium's first ever queen by birth. And her parents are doing all they can to make sure she is as well prepared as possible.  

How Elisabeth will become Belgium's first queen by birth

On turning 18, Princess Elisabeth is now legally old enough to rule without a substitute regent being appointed.

It means Elisabeth is now eligible to become queen on the death of her father, although given he is in good health and aged just 59 that is not expected to be soon. 

When she does ascend the throne, Elisabeth will become the first ever Queen of Belgium by birth. 

On its foundation in 1830, the Belgian constitution stipulated that accession to the throne was reserved for the descendants of Leopold I by order of primogeniture 'to the perpetual exclusion of women'.

But the Salic law was abolished in 1991.

Elisabeth's great-uncle Baudouin was on the throne at the time. 

Her grandfather Albert II was King from Baudouin's death in 1993 until he abdicated in favour of his son King Philippe, Elisabeth's father, in 2003. 

The 19-year-old, the eldest of King Philippe and Queen Mathilde's four children, obtained her International Baccalaureate from UWC Atlantic College last summer after completing her last six months of schooling remotely once schools were closed due to Covid-19. 

The teenager enrolled last autumn at the Royal Military Academy in Brussels, where she is being taught military and social affairs that will help her prepare for her future role as Queen.

Students are taught in depth about the four components of Belgian defense: the Army, Air Force, Navy and Medical services. 

Her father King Philippe, who ascended the throne in 2013 following the abdication of his father, King Albert II, also studied at the academy. 

Like families around the world, Philippe, Mathilde and their four children, Elisabeth, Gabriel, Emmanuel and Eleonore, spent much of last year at home together. 

The royal siblings also spent time volunteering, with Elisabeth getting a taste of the type of duties she will be expected to carry out as queen.   

They showed their support for Belgium's elderly popular by calling retirement homes and delivering baked goods.     

Princess Elisabeth's most high profile engagement to date was her 18th birthday celebrations in 2019. The milestone was particularly significant because it marked the princess becoming legally old enough to rule without a substitute regent being appointed. 

The birthday girl gave a short speech, saying: 'Eighteen years is the transition to adulthood ... The country can count on my commitment.' 

The King also presented his daughter with the Order of Leopold. The Order of Leopold is the oldest order of chivalry or knighthood in Belgium having been founded in July 1832, when Belgium gained independence. 


Out of the spotlight: Princess Amalia of the Netherlands on a ski trip with her family

Royal siblings: King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands with their daughters (l-r) Amalia, Ariane, 13, and Alexia, 15, who will be starting at UWC Atlantic College

Age and position: 17, Heir to the throne

Official title: Catharina-Amalia, Princess of Orange

Parents: King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima 

How an Argentine investment banker fell for a Dutch prince

King Willem-Alexander, 53, became king after his mother, Beatrix, now 82, abdicated in April 2013 after 33 years as reigning monarch.

He met his future wife Maxima, who was born in Argentina, in 1999 at the annual Seville Fair in Seville, Spain, where she was introduced to him as simply 'Alexander'.    

Maxima, who at the time was working in New York as an investment banker for Dresdner Kleinwort Benson, thought the strapping Dutchman was joking when he told her that he was not only a prince, but the heir to the Dutch throne.

The couple met again two weeks later in New York City and a relationship blossomed across the continents. They announced their engagement in March 2001 and married the following year, holding both civil and religious ceremonies.

There was controversy surrounding the match because Maxima's father, Jorge Zorreguieta, held a role as a cabinet minister during the National Reorganization Process, the most recent Argentinian dictatorship.

He did not attend his daughter's wedding because of the connection, and his wife chose not to fly without her husband.    

Born in 2003, Princess Catharina-Amalia is the eldest of three daughters born to King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands. 

Her middle names, Beatrix and Victoria, were chosen in honour of her paternal grandmother, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and her godmother Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden. 

Willem-Alexander and Maxima, who worked as an investment banker before marrying into the royal family, are also parents to Princess Alexia, 15, and Princess Ariane, 13.

The young family spent the first few years of their daughters' lives, while Willem-Alexander was still prince, at  Eikenhorst Villa in Wassenaar, an affluent suburb of The Hague.  

'We do our best to be really with them – on holidays or weekends or even at breakfast in the mornings,' the father-of-three once said in an interview. 

The family enjoyed days out cycling and to the beach, and holidays to Maxima's home country of Argentina. 

However life changed in 2013 when Queen Beatrix abdicated and Willem-Alexander ascended the throne. Willem-Alexander and his wife and daughters moved into Huis ten Bosch Palace. 

Nine-year-old Amalia became The Princess of Orange, the title given to the heir to the throne. Amalia will be kept out of the spotlight until she turns 18, at which point her title and role will become more formal.  

Speaking ahead of his investiture, Willem-Alexander said: 'Amalia's title will be made formal when she's 18 and she enters the State Council. Until then, we will protect her as much as possible.

'That means she won't participate in official engagements, or as little as possible. Her environment right now should only include her parents, her sisters, and her friends.'

The young princess, now a student at the Christelijk Gymnasium Sorghvliet in the Hague, was reportedly bullied at school. Last year a Spanish magazine came under fire for describing Amalia as 'plus-size' on a front cover. 


Second-in-line: Princess Ingrid Alexandra is the daughter of Crown Prince Haakon of Norway

Family holiday: Crown Prince Haakon and Mette-Marit with Ingrid Alexandra and son Sverre Magnus in Norway last summer. Ingrid Alexandra will follow her father to the throne

Age and position: 17, second-in-line to the throne 

Official title: Princess Ingrid Alexandra of Norway

Parents: Crown Prince Haakon of Norway and Princess Mette-Marit 

Born in 2004 in Oslo, Princess Ingrid Alexandra is the first child and only daughter of Crown Prince Haakon, heir apparent to the throne, and the second granddaughter of King Harald V and Queen Sonja. 

Ingrid Alexandra attended the same local primary school as her half-brother, Mette-Marit's son from a previous relationship. 

Her parents chose the school because they wanted her to have as ordinary a childhood as possible. Newspaper reports said Princess Ingrid Alexandra would walk to school with her half-brother. School officials hoped to make the school a place where the princess could make friends and enjoy some relief from public scrutiny.

Secondary school student Ingrid Alexandra is an avid skier, boxer and surfer. She won a gold medal in the Norwegian surfing championship for juniors in October 2020.

Ingrid Alexandra has taken part in a handful of public engagements, including opening a public sculpture park in her name in 2016. 

The Constitution of Norway was altered in 1990 to introduce absolute primogeniture, ensuring that the crown would pass to the eldest child regardless of sex.

It means Ingrid Alexandra is expected to become Norway's first female monarch since Queen Margaret, who reigned over Norway, Denmark and Sweden from the late 1380s until her death in 1412.


Little princess: The youngest princess is Estelle, who last month celebrated her ninth birthday

Perfectly poised: Estelle with her parents, Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel (right), grandparents Queen Sonja and King Carl XVI Gustaf, and her aunt Princess Sofia (left)

Age and position: Nine, Second-in-line to the throne

Official title: Princess Estelle, Duchess of Östergötland

Parents: Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel

The youngest princess on the list is Estelle, who last month celebrated her ninth birthday. 

Born in 2012, she is the eldest child and only daughter of Crown Princess Victoria, 43, heir to the Swedish throne, and her husband Prince Daniel. The couple also have a five-year-old son, Prince Oscar. 

Princess Estelle has three royal godparents: her maternal uncle, Prince Carl Philip of Sweden, King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, and Crown Prince Haakon of Norway.  

Estelle is the first female in Swedish history to be born with a right to inherit the crown that cannot be superseded by the birth of a male heir, as well as the first person in Swedish history to be born of a female heir apparent.

The young princess carried out her first royal engagement at just two years old when she inaugurated a walking trail.

She currently attends a school in Stockholm. 

Last year Princess Estelle fractured her leg on a skiing holiday. 

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