King Felipe of Spain's Speech at the Presentation of the Order of the Golden Fleece to Princess Leonor
I am happy to welcome everyone to the Royal Palace of Madrid on such a special day. I sincerely thank the Prime Minister, Government representatives, as well as other officials and guests who have joined us, your presence at this ceremony has such great significance.
Today, the Princess of Asturias [Princess Leonore] receives the Order of the Golden Fleece, which is deeply rooted in the history of Spain and Europe. This is an Order that for centuries has been granted -among others and singularly- to the Prince or Princess of Asturias [Heir to the Throne] from a very young age, so that over time he or she may know, little by little, the traditions and duties of the Crown and understands the responsibilities that one day he or she will have to assume. (King Felipe received the Order at age 13.)
The Order of the Golden Fleece was born in the old Duchy of Burgundy, in the Late Middle Ages, and more than half a millennium ago it was integrated into the Crown of Spain with the Habsburg dynasty. And so, with the Monarchy, it managed to achieve its enormous prestige and worldwide recognition.
It was created to reward and represent the values of excellence, service, and loyalty. Throughout its history it has evolved and adapted to the times, always maintaining its essence and constituting, at the same time, a benchmark of Spain's historic European recognition. At present, membership in the Order represents the highest award, reserved for professionals of excellence linked to great services to Spain and to the Crown.
This day, my 50th Birthday, I have chosen to formally present Princess Leonor with the Collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece, which I granted her on October 31, 2015, when she turned ten-years-old.
In this way, dear Leonor, I have chosen to share with you my special day, to highlight, with the greatest solemnity and symbolism, our personal and institutional commitment to Spain. A commitment that has its roots in the history of Spain, which updates and gives full democratic validity to the 1978 Constitution, approved by the Spanish people, and which is renewed day by day, with dedication, hard work, loyalty and responsibility.
This ceremony represents and celebrates the present and the future. In which, as Monarch and Head of the Order, I have given you the Collar and the insignias that identify it.
Before you, Leonor, and for centuries, People received this order, who dedicated their lives and work, to the service of Spain or who offered their help and friendship. Today, some Monarchs and Heads of State of other friendly countries, as well as Spanish personalities are members of this Order. There are a few Members of the Order attending this event: Mr. Javier Solana Madariaga, Mr. Víctor García de la Concha, and Mr. Enrique Iglesias García.
They received the necklace from, then Monarch and Head of the Order, your grandfather King Juan Carlos, promoter of the Spanish transition (to this current constitution and form of government) and to whom we must thank for their leadership in achieving the democratic system in which we live.
Mr. Javier Solana Madariaga has stood out for promoting at the highest level the international recognition of our country in the political and multilateral spheres, especially in Europe and the Atlantic area.
Mr. Víctor García de la Concha has dedicated his life to the care and expansion of the Spanish Language, that extraordinary way more than 500 million people around the world communicate; Our language, together with the other languages spoken in Spain, is one of our greatest treasures and is an essential part of our cultural heritage.
Mr. Enrique Iglesias García has devoted much of his life to fostering and promoting friendship, development and cooperation between countries on both sides of the Atlantic with whom we share a past, present and future.
Their names evoke important concepts for our country such as Culture, Europe and Latin America. Their qualities and achievements for Spain, as well as their commitment and responsibility to maintain at all times what is right and to be the best example for citizens, determined their appointment as Members of this Order.
I can not forget to mention your great-grandfather, my grandfather Juan, Count of Barcelona, former owner of the collar you have received just today.
Today, Leonor, you take a symbolic and very significant step in your preparation and your future on that path that began on June 19, 2014, when, following my accession, you became the Princess of Asturias and the rest of the titles traditionally bestowed to the heir of the Spanish monarchy. This Order that I just delivered to you - and that I know you receive with joy and aware of its importance - will appear on your coat of arms as a symbol that will remind you of the demands imposed on the heir to the throne.
To receive this Order implies special responsibilities for you, which you must assume inspired by the deepest values and ideals; values that you must hold and strengthen day by day in your heart. Because your actions — all of them — must be guided by the greater sense of dignity and exemplarity, by honesty and integrity, by the capacity of renunciation and sacrifice, by the permanent spirit of improvement, and by your unreserved dedication to your country and your people.
You must respect others, their ideas and beliefs; and you will love the culture, the arts and the sciences because they give us the best human ways to be better and help to progress in our society. You will be guided permanently by the Constitution, fulfilling and observing it; you will serve Spain with humility and awareness of your position; and you will make yours all the worries and joys, all the wishes and feelings of the Spaniards.
I know that today you may find many demands and many responsibilities, overwhelming and difficult, but you should know that you will have the support of many people who want the best for Spain, for the Crown and for you. Your family will always be by your side: especially your mother and sister, Sofia, who will be with you supporting you; also your grandparents; and of course I, your father, you know that I trust you fully and that I feel enormously proud to have given you this morning the Collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece.
Congratulations Leonor. And thank you all for your presence.