The king and queen of Spain will begin their state visit to the United Kingdom on Tuesday, after the trip had to be postponed on two occasions for internal political reasons in both countries. One of the highlights of King Felipe and Queen Letizia’s schedule, which is still provisional, will be the Spanish monarch’s appearance in the House of Commons on July 12.
The king will make a speech to members of the British parliament at a time when the Brexit process – the UK’s exit from the European Union – has thrown relations between the two countries into doubt. This visit, the first of its kind in 30 years, will see other political meetings, including a lunch with the prime minister, Theresa May, at 10 Downing Street.
According to Spanish diplomatic sources, the visit will take place at the best moment historically for Spanish-British relations, albeit under the shadow that is being cast by Brexit. The presence in London of the royal family, who have been invited by Queen Elizabeth II, will seek to transmit a message of support and calm to Spaniards resident in the UK and Spanish companies who operate in the British market.
The royal family will seek to transmit a message of support and calm to Spaniards resident in the UK
King Felipe and Queen Letizia will arrive on July 11, with the official program for the visit starting the day after with an official reception with Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh at Horse Guards Parade. King Felipe and Queen Letizia, who will be staying at Buckingham Palace, will visit Buckingham Palace Picture Gallery to see the collection of Spanish art.
Later that day, after meeting at Clarence House with Prince Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, they will attend a gala dinner at Buckingham Palace at which Queen Elizabeth and King Felipe will make short speeches. All members of the British royal family will be present, something that diplomatic sources have explained is “not the norm” and that have been interpreted as special deference toward the Spanish royal family.
The king will take part in a homage to the fallen, including victims of terrorism
On July 13, the king, accompanied by the Duke of York, will attend a meeting with Spanish and British business leaders in the City, and will also visit Westminster Abbey where he will take part in a homage to the fallen, including victims of terrorism. That night, the Lord Mayor of the City of London, Andrew Parmley, will hold a dinner in honor of the royal couple.
On July 14, after the official farewell by Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh, a meeting will be held with scientists and Spanish employees from the Francis Crick Institute, a biological research organization set up in 2016. They will then travel to Oxford, where they will take part in a number of activities organized by the city’s university.
Sources from Spain’s La Zarzuela palace have explained that this visit was “much desired” by the royal couple, and that both are very grateful to Queen Elizabeth and the British government for their willingness to organize the state visit in spite of the issues that led to its delay on two different occasions.
English version by Simon Hunter.