In case you missed it Easter weekend, all hell is breaking loose over a video that appears to show a face off between Queen Letizia of Spain and her mother-in-law, Queen Sofia, over posing for a photograph with Letizia’s daughters, Infantas Leonor and Sofia. The video – or videos since there is both a long and short version circulating – appears to show Queen Sofia attempting to pose for a picture with her granddaughters and Queen Letizia blocking the shot. Leonor then attempts to remove her grandmother’s hand from her shoulder and is physically pulled back into place by Queen Sofia. The end of the video shows King Felipe (Queen Sofia’s son and Queen Letizia’s husband) coming over, which many read as him interceding.
At some point I realized that despite having written at least five posts on Anne Boleyn, I’ve written maybe two that were solely dedicated to Katherine of Aragon. Despite her coming up on a regular basis when we cover Tudor history and having posted about all of her successors, I’ve neglected the OG of Henry VIII’s wives and we’re definitely going to rectify that over the next few weeks and months. Today, admittedly, we will still not cover Katherine as queen, but that’s because I’d like to start at the beginning and Katherine had an eventful and significant childhood in Spain as the daughter of the rather famous Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile.
Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard may have lost their heads to Henry VIII, but a part of me has always had the most sympathy for his daughter, Mary I. After all, she truly didn’t have a say in her association with the Tudors and it’s a particular kind of heartbreaking that her adversary was her father.
The question comes up now and again as to when England would have broken from Catholicism had Henry VIII not forced the issue in the 1530s and the answer usually landed on is that while it might have been delayed, the Reformation would still have swept the country in the 16th century. But it’s a tricky scenario to tackle, because it’s impossible to separate out the English brand of religious reform from Henry’s marital history, if for no other reason than it dictated both the succession and those with political power. Without Anne Boleyn it’s hard to accept Thomas Cromwell and Thomas Cranmer would have held the same sway, and without Anne there is no Elizabeth I and possibly no Edward VI.
That’s all, folks. This morning King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain said a formal goodbye to Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace after a whirlwind 72-hour trip.
The week behind him, Philip has reportedly bid a final adieu to state visits, making this one of his last high-profile appearances as a full-time working royal. When he and the Queen make their annual sojourn to Balmoral later this summer, he will finally be able to enjoy a proper retirement at the ripe old age of 96.
Is this British enough for you?
For King Felipe and Queen Letizia’s second night in London they were gifted a banquet hosted by the Lord Mayor of London at Guildhall. Their escort for the evening was the Queen’s daughter, the Princess Royal. I have to say, it was the same for me last time I was in London. Bit over the top, but I did appreciate the gesture.
While perhaps not on quite the same scale as the Diplomatic Reception at Buckingham Palace, Guildhall isn’t exactly messing around and, as you can tell from everyone’s apparel, neither were the guests.
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.
Real quick, if you’re looking for a rundown of the entire day, then head over to the last post here.
Otherwise, let’s dive into this evening’s banquet, because it was quite a historic one. Not only does the occasion mark the first Spanish state visit in 30+ years, but it’s also the Duke of Edinburgh’s last banquet before retirement and Prince Harry’s first. The torch is officially being passed to the younger generation as they gear up for a full-time schedule of royal duties this year.
In contrast to King Felipe’s speech before Parliament this afternoon, in which he brought up Spain’s issues with the sovereignty of Gibraltar, tonight was all about soft diplomacy. And while remarks were made, let’s be honest, most people were talking about the tiaras. Before we hone in on the Duchess of Cambridge, let’s first take note of Queen Letizia’s diplomatic skills on this front.
What a day! I had hoped to be able to dash off a quick mid-point update, but unfortunately work precluded that lofty plan. I will say that it was exciting to see the new engagements hit the news as I sneaked glances at my phone in-between meetings. A state visit, particularly a royal one, might be even more fun than a tour, but who’s to say? (Well, we can after next week, I suppose.)
Anyway, I’m going to break the day’s events up into two posts, saving the state banquet for a little later this evening, so check back to see Kate in all her tiara and lace glory. For now, we’re going to focus on King Felipe & Queen Letizia’s formal welcome by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, including that fantastic procession down the Mall and the hilariously awkward greeting with the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.
Last month, in a nod to the upcoming royal visit, I posted about Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain, the last marriage alliance between Britain and Spain. Now, days out from the arrival of King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia, I thought it appropriate to offer some background on these two, as well as what we know so far about the itinerary July 12-14.
One item on the itinerary for the state visit of King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia is a visit to Westminster Abbey that will include a stop at the tomb of Eleanor Castile, wife of Edward I and queen of England from 1272 to 1290. Eleanor’s memory is actually commemorated well outside the Abbey – “Charing Cross” is no doubt familiar to most; the location is one of the more famous spots in London, if for no other reason than it’s a Tube stop. Just south of Trafalgar Square, it’s unofficially noted as the very center of London and its site is now marked by a large statue of Charles I on a horse.
The statue has been there since 1675 courtesy of his son, Charles II, the very location that one of the “Eleanor crosses” used to stand. In fact, it was ninth in a series of 12 lavish monuments built in her memory by Edward I after her death. Three of the memorials still survive today, marking the procession her body took when it was transported to London for burial.