The British Ambassador to Spain, Simon Manley, has welcomed the announcement of a State Visit to the United Kingdom from the 8th to the 10th of March 2016.
“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,” said Mr Manley.
“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. They will stay at Windsor Castle. The programme will be announced in due course.
The last State Visit was when King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia visited in 1986. HM Queen Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh returned with a State Visit to Spain in 1988.
Since then the Spanish and British royal families have paid a number of formal visits to each other’s countries. In 2002, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia attended the annual Order of the Garter Ceremony at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, including a dinner at Windsor Castle given by The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh.
In 2011, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall paid a three-day official visit to Spain that was hosted by Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia. A few weeks later Queen Sofia, Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia attended the wedding in London of Prince William to Catherine Middleton.
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.
Today, the United Kingdom and Spain are close partners in the EU, NATO and United Nations, among numerous international organisations; and cooperate together through the UN Security Council, of which Spain is a current member.
The two countries are also major partners in trade, worth a total of 40bn GBP in 2014, including British goods and services worth 14.6 bn GBP exported to Spain, and imports from Spain to the UK worth 26.1bn GBP.
Spanish companies have invested heavily in the UK’s open economy, including Santander, which employs more than 20,000 people in the UK; Iberdrola, which owns Scottish Power; and Ferrovial, which operates Heathrow and three other airports.
Nearly 300,000 Britons are registered as residents in Spain and 15 million visitors came from the UK last year, whilst an estimated 131,000 Spaniards are resident in the UK and two million visited in 2014.
The UK and Spain will also enjoy a major cultural connection next year, which will mark the 400th anniversary of the deaths of two of the countries’ most famous writers, William Shakespeare and Miguel Cervantes, who both died in April 1616.