The King and Queen of Spain strengthen Spain-UK ties
His Majesty the King of Spain, Felipe VI, and Queen Letizia have been to the United Kingdom on the first official trip of Spanish monarchs in more than 30 years. In 1986, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofía had travelled to London, just after Spain had joined the European Economic Community (EEC).
Now, the geopolitical situation is different, with the UK exiting the European Union. The Royal visit was thus aimed at strengthening ties between the two nations in a series of official events that included King Felipe’s speech before Parliament.
King Felipe and Queen Letizia were escorted by a delegation of Spanish diplomats and businessmen that included the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Alfonso Dastis; the High Commissioner for Marca España, Carlos Espinosa de los Monteros; the Executive Chairwoman of Santander Bank, Ana Botín; the Executive Chairman of Telefónica, José María Álvarez-Pallete; Rafael del Pino, Chairman of Ferrovial; and Pablo Isla, Chairman and CEO of Inditex.
On arrival in London, Felipe VI and Letizia were greeted by Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. Then they went to Horse Guards Parade for a welcome ceremony with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
Afterwards, they took a coach ride with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip to Buckingham Palace, where they were to stay for the last two nights. In the afternoon, they visited the Palace of Westminster, where they were welcomed by John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons.
Speech at Westminster
At the Palace of Westminster, Felipe VI delivered a speech as his father had done twenty years before him – the first foreign monarch to speak in Parliament. The King of Spain highlighted the ‘strong ties’ between the two royal families, as well as the two countries’ ‘commitment to pluralism and diversity’, making the British and Spanish societies richer and more interesting.
The Spanish King did not forget to mention Ignacio Echeverría, the Spanish citizen killed in the London Bridge terrorist attacks, and his ‘heroic efforts’ to fight back against the attackers. Finally, he thanked Queen Elizabeth II for her patriotism, sense of responsibility, love of her people and dedication to serve British citizens.
On Friday, 14 July, the King and Queen of Spain bid farewell to Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip at Buckingham Palace to meet Prince Andrew, Duke of York, for a tour of The Francis Crick Institute and Weston Library at the University of Oxford.