King Felipe’s 50th birthday has been an occasion to celebrate. In honor of his milestone birthday, video of the family has been released to show a behind-the-scenes look into their life. The king and his wife, Queen Letizia, take their daughters to school and the family eats a meal together. Sounds like a typical family day, right?
The difference is that the girls, Princesses Leonor and Sofia, watch their father make a televised address to the Spanish people. They absorb the goings-on as a crew adjusts microphones and watches the raw footage carefully. Then the eldest princess, Leonor (Princess of Asturias) was publicly honored by her father to mark his 50th birthday. He presented her with the Order of the Golden Fleece (La Orden del Toisón de Oro) in a ceremony, but Leonor had actually already officially received it two years ago, at age 10. The heir to the Spanish throne is the youngest female in history to receive this honor, given only to three others: Beatrix of the Netherlands (mother of the current king of the Netherlands), Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, and HM Queen Elizabeth II.
King Felipe’s speech to Leonor was touching. “In this way, dear Leonor, I have chosen to share with you this special day to highlight, with the greatest solemnity and symbolism, our personal and institutional commitment to Spain”. He looked so proud, advising his daughter that she must serve Spain with “humility” and always be guided by their constitution. I may have cried a little.
What is the order?
The order has French origins, founded by Philip “the Good”, Duke of Burgundy, in 1430. It was to commemorate his wedding to Isabella of Portugal.
Through the marriage of his granddaughter Mary of Burgundy to the Austrian Archduke Maximilian, it passed to the Austrian Habsburg dyasty and ended up in their Spanish branch. Once the Spanish Habsburgs were no more, the Spanish Borbons and the Austrian Habsburgs argued over who rightfully had possession of the order. The King and Queen of Spain are the Sovereigns and Great Masters of the Order today.