First Lady of Portugal
Primeira-dama de Portugal
Coat of arms of Portugal.svg
Coat of Arms of the Portuguese Republic
Rita Amaral Cabral

since 9 March 2016
ResidenceBelém Palace
Term length5 Years (10 years if the President wins re-election)
Inaugural holderLucrécia de Arriaga
Formation24 August 1911
WebsitePresidency of the Portuguese Republic - First Lady (defunct)

First Lady of Portugal (Portuguese: primeira-dama) is the unofficial title attributed to the wife or Partner of the president of Portugal. To date, there has been no first gentleman of Portugal. The current First Lady is Rita Amaral Cabral, Partner of president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.


The inaugural first lady of Portugal was Lucrécia de Arriaga (1911–1915), wife of the first president of the First Portuguese Republic, Manuel de Arriaga.[1]

Maria Joana Queiroga de Almeida sitting with Elisabeth, Queen of the Belgians in 1920
Maria Joana Queiroga de Almeida sitting with Elisabeth, Queen of the Belgians in 1920

Maria Joana Queiroga de Almeida, Portugal's first lady from 1919 to 1923 and the wife of President António José de Almeida, was one of the country's first first ladies to take on public, ceremonial roles.[1] She took on a very public role in 1920 as the hostess during the official state visit of Leopold III of Belgium, the then-heir to the Belgian throne, in 1920.[1] By contrast, Almeida's successor, Belmira das Neves, first lady from 1923 to 1925, largely avoided the public spotlight, but played a supporting role to her husband, Manuel Teixeira Gomes, behind the scenes.[1]

Role and duties

The role of the Portuguese president's spouse, be it "First Lady" or "First Gentleman", is not an official office and, as such, they are not given a salary or official duties. The first ladies have played a mere protocol role during official ceremonies and state visits. However, since 1996, under the presidency of Jorge Sampaio, the president's spouse has the right to a workplace and a three-people staff incorporated in the President's Office.[2][3] In addition, according to the Portuguese State Protocol's order of precedence, the spouse of any high-ranking office holder is given the same rank as theirs, as long as the spouse is also invited to the ceremony.[4]

Since the current president has no spouse and the main candidates in the last presidential election refused to continue with the president's spouse's workplace, the only two first ladies to have used it were Jorge Sampaio and Aníbal Cavaco Silva's wives: Maria José Ritta and Maria Cavaco Silva.[2][3]

List of first ladies of Portugal

First Portuguese Republic (1910–1926)

Name Terms begins Term ends President
Lucrécia de Arriaga 24 August 1911 26 May 1915 Manuel de Arriaga
Maria do Carmo Xavier Braga (posthumous title) 29 May 1915 5 October 1915 Teófilo Braga
Elzira Dantas Machado 5 October 1915 5 December 1917 Bernardino Machado
Maria dos Prazeres Martins Bessa 27 December 1917 14 December 1918 Sidónio Pais
Mariana de Santo António Moreira Freire Correia Manuel Torres de Aboim 16 December 1918 5 October 1919 João do Canto e Castro
Maria Joana Queiroga 5 October 1919 5 October 1923 António José de Almeida
Belmira das Neves 6 October 1923 11 December 1925 Teixeira Gomes
Elzira Dantas Machado 11 December 1925 31 May 1926 Bernardino Machado
Maria das Dores Formosinho Vieira Cabeçadas 31 May 1926 19 June 1926 José Mendes Cabeçadas

Estado Novo (1926–1974)

Name Terms begins Term ends President
Henriqueta Júlia de Mira Godinho 19 June 1926 9 July 1926 Manuel Gomes da Costa
Maria do Carmo Ferreira da Silva Carmona 9 July 1926 18 April 1951 António Óscar Carmona
Berta da Costa Ribeiro Arthur 21 July 1951 9 August 1958 Francisco Craveiro Lopes
Gertrudes Rodrigues 9 August 1958 25 April 1974 Américo Tomás

Third Portuguese Republic (1974–Present)

Name Term begins Term ends President
Maria Helena Martins Monteiro de Barros Spínola 15 May 1974 30 September 1974 António de Spínola
Maria Estela Veloso de Antas Varajão da Costa Gomes 30 September 1974 13 July 1976 Francisco da Costa Gomes
Manuela Ramalho Eanes 14 July 1976 9 March 1986 António Ramalho Eanes
Maria Barroso 9 March 1986 9 March 1996 Mário Soares
Maria José Ritta 9 March 1996 9 March 2006 Jorge Sampaio
Maria Cavaco Silva 9 March 2006 9 March 2016 Aníbal Cavaco Silva
Rita Amaral Cabral 9 March 2016 present Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa

In popular culture

In 2005, an exhibit on the history of Portugal's first ladies, called Primeiras-Damas da Republica Portuguesa 1910-2005 (Portuguese First Ladies Exhibition 1910-2005), opened at the IADE Cultural Centre in Lisbon.[1] The exhibition, which encompassed two entire floors of the IADE's cultural centre, included documents, clothing, gowns, jewelry, and letters once owned by Portugal's first ladies.[1]

Items on display included former first lady Maria Helena de Barroso Spinola's black evening gown and 1920s-era clothing, fans and furs worn by Maria das Dores Cabeçada, the first lady in 1926.[1] Pieces from Maria José Ritta, who was the first lady at the time of the 2005 exhibition, included lemon yellow Dior-style suit worn during her employment at TAP Portugal during the 1970s, as well as clothing and dresses worn during state visits to Brazil and other nations.[1]

In 2011, journalist Alberta Marques Fernandes published her book As Primeiras-Damas ("The First Ladies") about the wives of the presidents of the Third Portuguese Republic.[5][6]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Portugal's first ladies – the glamour and the glitz". Portugal Resident. 2005-10-28. Retrieved 2015-07-09.
  2. ^ a b Falcão, Catarina (27 December 2015). "Primeira-dama. A tradição já não é o que era" [First Lady: the tradition is not what it used to be]. Observador (in Portuguese). Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  3. ^ a b Henriques, João Pedro; et al. (15 January 2016). "Primeira-dama. Uma cortesia com fim à vista" [First Lady. A courtesy about to end]. Diário de Notícias (in Portuguese). Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  4. ^ "Lei n.º 40/2006 - Lei das precedências do Protocolo do Estado Português" [Law no. 40 of 2006 - Law of the precedences of the Portuguese State Protocol]. Diário da República (in Portuguese). n.º 164/2006, Série I: 6185–6190. 25 August 2006 – via Diário da República Eletrónico.
  5. ^ "Lançado o livro sobre "As primeiras damas"" [Published the book about the First Ladies] (Video and text). RTP Notícias (in Portuguese). 13 April 2011. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  6. ^ Fonseca, Catarina Reis da (26 March 2011). "Histórias de quem fez a história de Belém" [Stories of who made Belém's history]. Diário de Notícias (in Portuguese). Retrieved 24 May 2018.