Greeted by hundreds of excited children, parents and special guests, the Queen of Spain officially opened the new school year in Almeria.
Letizia, wife of King Felipe VI, delighted pupils with her appearance at the bilingual school Gines Morata to the north of the capital.
Famous for her easygoing style, the former journalist and television anchor mingled effortlessly with delighted primary age children, before unveiling a new plaque in the school hall to honour the occasion.
Welcomed by cheers, applause, balloons and walls adorned with children’s paintings, the Queen was joined at the jubilant ceremony on Tuesday by the school’s namesake Gines Morata, an award-winning scientist, and also its head teacher Dolores Ruiz. The president of Andalucia, Susana Diaz, missed out on attending after her plane broke down.
Letizia’s atypical royal background is largely credited with bolstering her popularity and common touch. Before she became Queen she was married to a high-school teacher and reported from Mexico, Iraq and a disaster in Galicia.
Her natural flair showed as she met autistic students, joined in gym classes, which the children had converted into a shrine to Spain’s Olympic stars, and joked with students in the playground as part of her tour.
Gines Morata was a fitting choice for a royal visit. The bilingual school teaches several classes in English and has a highly interactive curriculum well regarded by local parents.
It also teaches French as a foreign language, is inclusive of special needs students, campaigns against bullying and collaborates in Erasmus programmes with other institutes as far afield as Italy and Portugal.