It would be hard to top the pageantry of yesterday’s procession and banquet, but the schedule was chock full of engagements for King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain as they embarked on the second day of their state visit to the UK. This morning, Felipe accompanied the Duke of York, the Queen’s second son, for a UK-Spain Business Forum at Mansion House. Apparently Felipe made a speech, however, I’ll be honest with you, I can’t find coverage of this engagement anywhere, which is a bit strange as I don’t recall seeing that it was a private event.
While Andrew’s engagements rarely permeate national coverage, given Felipe’s attendance, you would imagine there would have been at least some press interest. Particularly since Andrew and his ex-wife, the Duchess of York, find themselves embroiled in yet another mini-scandal, as only they can. If this visit wasn’t ongoing I would probably write about it since it’s borderline ridiculous, but as it stands, there’s enough going on.
In any event, next up Felipe and Letizia were escorted to Westminster Abbey by Prince Harry and, needless to say, this certainly did receive some press attention. The engagement marked the first time that Harry has participated in hosting duties during a state visit, just as last night was his first time attending a state banquet.
The King and Queen laid a wreath and paid their respects to the Grave of the Unknown Warrior.
They were then given a private tour of the Abbey, which included a stop by the tomb of Eleanor of Castile, an ancestor of Felipe’s and a queen of England via her marriage to Edward I in the 13th century.
Eleanor’s reputation has remarkably improved over the centuries since her death, however in her day she was actually very unpopular given her Spanish heritage and the coterie of her countrymen that she kept in her employ. Her inability to connect with the English public and her failure to ever learn the language despite first entering the country at the age of 14 certainly didn’t help matters.
Even so, she signifies one of the most notable royal alliances between Spain and England, not significantly repeated until Henry VIII married Katherine of Aragon in 1509. (I’m going to go ahead and pass right over John of Gaunt’s marriage to Constance of Castile in the 14th century and all that that entailed).
Letizia’s ensemble this afternoon featured a blue silk shirt and a floral, A-line skirt by Carolina Herrera.
Felipe then had a one-on-one meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May at 10 Downing Street, during which, her spokespeople were quick to note, Gibraltar was not discussed. While there little detail of what was actually discussed, May was insistent that the two countries would maintain the “closest possible relationship” as Britain navigates Brexit.
Tonight Felipe and Letizia are expected to join the Princess Royal and her husband, Timothy Laurence, for a banquet at Guildhall hosted by the Lord Mayor and City of London Corporation. Further speeches are expected.
As details of the evening event emerge, I will update the post.