IN a press release issued by the British Embassy in Madrid on December 3, Ambassador Simon Manley announced that King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia will be making a State Visit to Britain on March 8 to 10 2016.
In his announcement, Ambassador Manley said: “The British Government is delighted that Their Majesties King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain have accepted the invitation from Her Majesty the Queen,”
“This State Visit will celebrate not only the long and deep royal and historic ties between our two countries, but also our strong relationship as partners in the European Union, NATO and United Nations. We enjoy close connections in terms of culture, trade, investment, security and defence. This is an opportunity to celebrate and deepen those links.”
This is the first State Visit by King Felipe and Queen Letizia to the UK although they have visited Britain before the king’s accession, and it was announced that they will stay at Windsor Castle.
The British and Spanish Royal Families are directly related through the marriage of Alfonso XIII of Spain to Princess Victoria Eugenia, known as Ena, granddaughter of Queen Victoria, in 1906. Victoria Eugenia is the great-grandmother of King Felipe.
The timing of the release of the contents of a letter from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to the deputy Chief Minister of Gibraltar earlier in the same week, where she advised that she would not be in a position to visit Gibraltar during 2016, was perhaps not coincidental.
Whilst the decision was portrayed as being to the age of Her Majesty and her drastic reduction in travel, it will be remembered that Queen Sofia abandoned a planned trip to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee in 2012 in protest at a planned visit to Gibraltar by Prince Edward.