During a state dinner last night in Buckingham Palace, on the first official day of the king and queen of Spain’s visit to the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth stated that none of the challenges currently facing the two countries would affect their good bilateral relationship.
The banquet, which unusually was attended by the majority of the British royal family, was held after Spain’s King Felipe VI had addressed a joint session of the House of Commons and the House of Lords in Westminster. During his speech in parliament, which he delivered in English, he had tackled the thorny issues of Gibraltar and Brexit, and also paid tribute to Ignacio Echevarría, the Spaniard who was killed in the recent terrorist attack on London Bridge.
A total of 150 guests attended last night’s dinner, including politicians, diplomats, business leaders
As well as members of the British royal family, a total of 150 guests attended last night’s dinner, including politicians, diplomats, business leaders and other representatives of civil society. The executive chairman of Santander bank, Ana Botín, was present, as were representatives from other Spanish companies such as Pablo Isla from Inditex (the parent company of clothing retailer Zara), José María Álvarez-Pallet, from telecoms giant Telefónica, and Antonio Vázquez from IAG (the holding company that owns former flag carriers British Airways and Iberia, among other airlines).
After the Spanish national anthem was played, Queen Elizabeth made a speech during which she emphasized the bonds of friendship between the two countries. The state visit, she said, was “an expression of the deep respect and friendship that describes the relationship between Spain and the United Kingdom,” one that she defined as “dynamic and modern.”
The queen also reflected some of the former differences between Spain and the UK from the past that King Felipe had mentioned in his speech on Wednesday night, saying that it was inevitable that there were issues where the countries had not seen eye to eye. But she went on to state that “a relationship like ours founded on such great strengths and common interests will ensure that both our nations prosper now and in the future, whatever challenges arise.”
There is no doubt that Spaniards will always be together with our British friends and allies King Felipe VI
King Felipe then made a speech thanking the royal family for the invitation to the UK and expressing his “enormous satisfaction” at seeing the progress made in terms of the relationship between the two countries since the Spanish royals’ last state visit, made 31 years ago by then-King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofía. “The depth of our links and the solidity of our friendship will help our respective governments deal with any issue about which there are still discrepancies, with the best will and the utmost spirit of collaboration.”
As he had done earlier in parliament, he expressed Spain’s solidarity with the British people. “There is no doubt that Spaniards will always be together with our British friends and allies, shoulder to shoulder in the fight against terrorism,” he said. The king ended his speech with a toast to Queen Elizabeth, the Duke of Edinburgh and the people of the United Kingdom, after which the British national anthem, God Save the Queen, was played.
English version by Simon Hunter.