Princess Leonor de Borbón y Ortiz, the eldest daughter of King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia, and heir apparent to the throne of Spain, traveled to Wales on Monday to begin a two-year International Baccalaureate program with United World College (UWC) education. movement at UWC Atlantic College.
The Royal Household released images of Princess Leonor’s moving farewell at Madrid-Barajas Airport, showing the 15-year-old hugging her parents and younger sister, the Infanta Sofia. The princess is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, which means she will not have to self-quarantine upon arrival at UWC Atlantic College, located in the Vale of Glamorgan. She will, however, have to take a PCR test on her second day in the UK, as currently required by UK authorities.
UWC Atlantic College is an exclusive academic institution which is favored by aristocrats, millionaires and intellectual bohemians. It was described three years ago in the british daily The temperature like “Hogwarts for hippies”, in reference to the school of magic in the famous Harry Potter books. The college is located on the grounds of St Donat’s Castle, a medieval castle which was renovated after its purchase by American media mogul William Randolph Hearst in 1925. Playwright George Bernard Shaw described the 12th-century castle as “this that God would have built if he had the money.
Princess Leonor, who arrived at UWC Atlantic College on Monday, will study alongside 350 students from 90 nationalities. At least half of the students are scholarship holders and receive financial aid from private benefactors, or have the cost of their studies partially covered by the income of paying students. In total, 5% of the school’s students are refugees from conflict zones such as Palestine, Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan.
In the case of Princess Leonor – who passed the strict admission exams anonymously, according to the college director – the cost of the two-year International Baccalaureate program is € 76,000, which will come from the annual provision that the state is setting aside for the royal family, according to sources in La Zarzuela, the seat of the royal household.
Princess Leonor will share a room with three other students and her day will begin at 8 a.m. At 6:00 p.m., dinner is served and at 9:30 p.m. all students must be in their rooms. Princess Leonor will also study alongside Princess Alexia of the Netherlands, who is the second in line of succession to the Dutch throne.
UWC Atlantic College was founded by German educator Kurt Hanan, who also established Gordonstoun School in Scotland, where the late Prince Phillip and Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, completed part of their studies. The current president of the school is Queen Noor of Jordan and Nobel laureate Nelson Mandela was formerly honorary president of the school. According to the founding statutes of the college, its mission “is to make education a force to unite peoples, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future”.
According to the Royal Household, Princess Leonor, who turns 16 in October, will maintain her public commitments as heir to the Spanish throne, but has not detailed how she will balance those tasks with her rigorous academic program, which includes also community service, physical activity and creative workshops.
english version by Melissa Kitson.