Monday, 28 November 2016

Spanish State Visit to Portugal, Day One

The King and Queen of Spain at the start of their State Visit to Portugal on November 28th 2016
(photo casa real Twitter)

King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain began their three day State Visit to Portugal with a mix of modern and traditional. As well as the ceremonial welcome and a spectacular State Dinner, there was also a chance to celebrate one of Spain's most famous artists of the 20th century and to talk about causes close to their hearts. Welcome to the Spanish State Visit to Portugal, Day One.

Felipe and Letizia were in the air for a whole hour as they made their way from Madrid to Oporto where the tour began but there was still an official send off in Spain before they stepped off the plane to the traditional welcome that starts all State Visits.

The royal couple were welcomed to Portugal by the country's Foreign Minister before heading, with a ceremonial guard, to the centre of Oporto where they were welcomed by the President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

There was more State Visit tradition as the national anthems of Spain and Portugal were played and King Felipe and the Portuguese President reviewed the troops.  Then it was inside for some more State Visit staples, including official photos.

King Felipe then held an audience with politicians while Queen Letizia, who is involved with cancer charities in Spain, met the president of the Portuguese League Against Cancer, Victor Veloso.

The old centre of Oporto is a UNESCO World Heritage site, with parts of the city dating back to Roman times. For centuries, its keys have been a symbolic gift and King Felipe and Queen Letizia were presented with this honour as their State Visit really got under way.  An official lunch beckoned but first, there was art to enjoy.

Felipe and Letizia do like a bit of culture and they've had a high profile this year visiting exhibitions. That continued in Portugal as they toured a display of pieces by Joan Miro at the Serralves Foundation Museum.  Then they got a bit of a sit down as that welcome meal was hosted by the President of Portugal.

They spent the evening at another part of Portugal's history. The State Dinner for this State Visit was held in Guimaraes, at the Palace of the Dukes of Branganza. 

The palace was built in the 15th century but in later years fell into disrepair. It was restored in the 20th century and was an official residence of the Portuguese President. Now it is open to visitors and houses a museum. It provided a spectacular backdrop, mixing traditional and modern, for this State Dinner.

Queen Letizia kept it very 21st century by dispensing with the usual tiara for this gala event but the evening glittered regardless.

The King and Queen of Spain, along with the President of Portugal, walked through the palace surrounded by people in traditional dress. There was singing and dancing, too.

During the State Dinner itself, King Felipe described Spain and Portugal as 'sister nations' and said the bond between them was unique.  In his speech, delivered in both Spanish and Portuguese, he said the State Visit would see the two countries 'looking to the future with hope'.

The State Visit continues on November 29th with engagements in Oporto before King Felipe and Queen Letizia head to Lisbon.

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