Meet the New Breed of Real-Life Warrior Princesses


Female royal fighters have always been powerful totems in art and history.

Be it the woad-stained Boadicea, the dragon-taming Daenerys Targaryen, or Elizabeth I donning armor to rally the troops when the Spanish Armada threatened the English coast in 1588, the combat-ready queen or princess is an icon redolent with powerful symbolism.

Now, however, a new generation of “warrior princesses” are emerging in a European continent forced into a dramatic reappraisal of the importance of military service by Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine arriving on its doorstep.

Indeed, one of Europe’s most prominent members of the new breed is Crown Princess Victoria, who comes from Sweden, which has recently joined the NATO military alliance in direct response to the renewed threat from its traditional enemy and near-neighbor Russia.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, and Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, pose for an official photo with ambassadors, senior military and military personnel during a ceremony marking Sweden’s accession to NATO during a flag-raising ceremony outside NATO headquarters on March 11, 2024 in Brussels, Belgium.

Omar Havana/Getty Images

Victoria, 42, has completed several spells in the army since her teenage years but it was announced by Sweden’s Royal Court last week that she is to start a special officer training later this year to deepen her military training, as part of her future role as head of state.

“The Crown Princess will during autumn 2024 begin special officer training to acquire a deeper understanding of tactics, military science and military strategy,” the statement said.

Another royal trading ballgowns and glass slippers for combat fatigues and boots is Princess Leonor of Spain, 17, who will also be head of state when her father Felipe abdicates or dies.

Leonor, also known as Princess of Asturias, signed up for three years of military training in September last year. In a reflection of her future role as head of all three armed forces, she will spend one year at each of the Army, Navy and Air Force.

Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles said, “It’s an essential step in the life of Her Royal Highness… toward the leadership of our country,” CNN reported.

A photo of Princess Leonor of Spain

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Crown Princess Leonor of Spain attends the Pascua Militar ceremony at the Royal Palace on January 06, 2024 in Madrid, Spain.

Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

Perhaps the most glamorous of the warrior princesses is Jordan’s Princess Salma. While stories doing the rounds that she helped defend against the recent Iranian strikes against Israel are exaggerations, she has completed pilot training with Jordan’s Armed Forces, making her not just the first princess but also the first the first female jet pilot in the Jordanian Armed Forces.

Like any proud mother, Queen Rania has taken to posting her daughter’s accomplishments on Instagram, including her participation in a recent aid drop to Gaza.

A key part of the messaging around royals joining the army has always been that it is an environment where they receive no special treatment—indeed, being just another one of the guys and girls is one of the aspects of military life that Prince Harry adored during his 10 years in the British Army.

That narrative is very evident in the case of Princess Ingrid Alexandra of Norway, who will also be queen one day, and also began military training this year.

According to Hola.com, citing Norwegian outlet NRK, one army official said Ingrid “has to wash the floor, make the bed and attend classes,” adding, “We have the same expectations of her as all other soldiers.” Another officer said they had “not taken any special measures because the princess came here.”

Ingrid turned 20 on Jan. 21 and the Royal House marked her birthday by posting a picture of her saying she had undertaken a “High Altitude, High Opening” parachute jump with Norway’s special forces.

Ingrid is signed up for 12 months at the Engineer Battalion. It puts her in esteemed company: the future Queen Elizabeth II, still just a young princess, signed up for National Service when she turned 18 in the final year of World War II. She also joined an engineering division and received training in heavy vehicle driving and mechanics—making her the only royal known to be able to service a truck engine.

Now that’s impressive, soldier.





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