The Spanish royals will finally visit the United Kingdom between July 12 and 14, one month and four days later than the original planned dates. The state visit had to be rescheduled after British Prime Minister Theresa May announced a snap election for June 8, right when Felipe VI and Letizia were planning to be in London.
The Spanish Foreign Ministry’s Diplomatic Information Office issued a note on Friday announcing the new dates, as agreed by both governments.
Relations between both countries have been strained since the Brexit referendum
This is the second time that the visit by the Spanish royals has had to be pushed to a later date. An earlier trip planned for 2015 was placed on hold due to the political stalemate in Spain, which had an interim government for 10 months. After settling on June 6 to 8 of this year, the decision to hold a snap election in Britain forced both royal houses to find a new window of time.
Diplomatic sources pointed out that Felipe VI had been planning to address parliament in Westminster, mirroring a speech made decades earlier by his own father Juan Carlos. But that would not be possible during a June 6-8 visit, as parliament will be dissolved because of the election.
The British Royal House sent out a message on Twitter explaining that Queen Elizabeth and King Felipe VI had agreed to postpone the visit due to the election.
In light of the UK General Election, The Visit has been rescheduled and will now take place from 12th-14th July.— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) April 21, 2017
The visit “will serve to reflect, at the highest possible level, the excellence and intensity of the ties and bilateral relations between Spain and the United Kingdom, and the commitment to preserve them for the benefit of citizens from both countries,” according to the Spanish Foreign Ministry.
The fact that a Spanish head of state has not been on a state visit to Britain in 31 years, coupled with the UK’s decision to leave the EU, makes this visit particularly relevant.
Relations between both countries have been strained since the Brexit referendum, particularly over the future of the British overseas territory of Gibraltar. It is also uncertain how the decision to leave Europe will affect the more than 250,000 British residents in Spain, and the approximately 200,000 Spaniards who live in the UK.
English version by Susana Urra.