By Carlos Pérez Gil
Madrid, Oct 29 (EFE).- Tuesday’s session in the Spanish parliament to swear in Princess Leonor, heir to the throne of Spain, on her 18th birthday goes beyond mere ceremonial protocol – it symbolizes the continuity of the country’s parliamentary monarchy, cements the institution’s allegiance to the chamber, and enables Leonor to formally assume her functions as Queen if her father is disqualified or abdicates.
Experts consulted by EFE believe the solemn session carries a remarkable symbolic, legal and institutional weight because of the democratic legitimacy Leonor will secure.
The eldest daughter of Felipe VI will swear “to faithfully perform her duties, to keep and uphold the Constitution and the laws and respect the rights of citizens and the autonomous communities and loyalty to the king”, the same formula used by her father in 1986.
José María Porras, Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Granada, stresses that the oath expresses the continuity of the “institution that symbolizes the unity and permanence of the State”, while reaffirming “the inseparable link” between the Spanish Crown and the Constitution.
Unlike in the past, when the Spanish Parliament swore allegiance to the King, now it is Leonor who commits herself to abide by the legal order and confirms her vocation to be Spain’s future head of state.
“The institutional significance of the act is huge, because the princess swears an oath of allegiance in law. It means that we are all subject to the law. She swears allegiance to the king, but also to the Constitution and its laws,” says legal expert José María Codes.
Leonor became crown princess when Felipe VI was proclaimed king on June 19, 2014. Her oath before the deputies and senators does not alter that status.
“She will acquire more and more institutional relevance and an increasingly greater representative function of the Royal Household, but on a legal level her position remains exactly the same until it is her turn to act as head of state,” Codes explains.
The novelty upon reaching the age of majority and taking the oath before parliament is that the princess could exercise the royal function automatically and immediately if her father were to be disqualified under any circumstance.
“She would not occupy the position of Head of State, but she could substitute the king when the situation requires it,” Asunción de la Iglesia, Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Navarra, points out.
The Spanish Parliament assumes a central role in the step that the future head of the Spanish State will take on Tuesday, as they will be the recipients of the oath.
For Codes, it is “very relevant” because “the oath is not received by the Government or the King, but by (…) the Spanish people”.
“It is a guarantee and a source of tranquility for her and all citizens that the continuity of the monarchy also implies a continuity in democratic legitimacy and respect for the rule of law,” he says. EFE