Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Spanish State Visit: the rewind

The Spanish State Visit gets under way officially in just a few hours time. This is one of the most hotly anticipated visits of recent years and not just because Felipe and Letizia had had to change their plans three times since the trip was first announced. This is a chance to see the newest monarch and consort in Europe alongside the longest reigning and longest serving on the continent and it's also another chance to see the friendship between the two royal houses in action. It's also pretty historic - the last time a King and Queen of Spain paid a State Visit to the UK was back in 1986 when Felipe's parents, Juan Carlos and Sofia, did the whole carriages and king thing. To get ready for this sparkling summer treat, here's a look back at their trip and what will soon be the penultimate Spanish State Visit.

King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia arrived at Heathrow Airport on April 22nd 1986 where they were met by the Prince and Princess of Wales. Juan Carlos had been King of Spain for just over ten years while Charles and Diana were still the fairytale couple of royal romance. Yes, this really all happened that long ago.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were ready for the official welcome. The carriage ride took the King and Queen of Spain into the ancient walls of Windsor Castle where the whole Royal Family was waiting inside to say hello. Lots of curtsies and kisses followed - all the pomp, all the family fondness.

The State Banquet took place at Windsor Castle, too, with the Queen paying tribute to her guest's contribution in restoring democracy to Spain during her speech. 

Both monarchs referred to Gibraltar during their State Banquet speeches and there were more politics for Juan Carlos and Sofia during the trip as the King of Spain addressed a joint session of the House of Commons and the House of Lords - the first foreign monarch to do that. The royal visitors also popped into Number Ten to meet the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.


There was also an honorary degree from the University of Oxford for King Juan Carlos during the State Visit which saw big crowds turn out for the royal guests everywhere they went. It was a moment in history about to be repeated. Rewind, fast forward, reset. It's time for the Spanish State Visit, 2017.

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