British and Spanish royal families, relatives in dispute over Gibraltar ‘legacy’
Although the Spanish royal family has always been affectionate towards “cousin Lilibet”, the Rock has sometimes cast a shadow over their relationship
In 1905, the King of Spain Alfonso XIII undertook a tour of Europe which aimed, among other things, to find a wife. In London, he thought he had found someone: Princess Patricia of Connaught, one of Queen Victoria’s granddaughters. She refused him. However, the grandfather of the current King Felipe of Spain did not leave empty-handed. He attracts the attention of Victoria Eugenia, whom he marries the following year. And this is the origin of the links between the two royal families: Queen Elizabeth II was the cousin of King Emeritus Juan Carlos and the aunt of King Felipe.
Victoria Eugenia brought with her from England the tradition of wedding cakes, amassed a splendid collection of jewels – Queen Letizia wears them on special occasions today – and introduced hemophilia to the Spanish monarchy, which gave her husband a reason to walk away from her and practically reject her. she absolutely.
But “the only problem that remains between us”, as Queen Elizabeth described it during her only state visit to Spain, in 1988, was and is Gibraltar. These six square kilometers in such a strategic location have been a source of dispute between Spain and the United Kingdom for decades, between King Juan Carlos and Elizabeth II. So much so that the King and Queen of Spain refused to attend the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in July 1981 after learning that the royal couple were planning to start their honeymoon from Gibraltar.
It was the most notable, but not the only sign of discord over the sovereignty of the Rock. In 2012, Queen Sofía canceled her participation in the celebration marking 60 years since Queen Elizabeth’s accession to the throne, almost at the last minute. Why? Prince Edward, Elizabeth’s youngest son, and his wife traveled to Gibraltar on one of the visits organized by several members of the British family to mark the occasion.
But the affection between the two families has shown itself on many other occasions. In April 1986, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia made an official visit to the UK which marked the start of five years of excellent relations.
That summer and the one that followed, Charles and Diana spent several days with their sons William and Harry at Marivent, and in 1988 Spain welcomed the British monarch for a visit that will go down in history. Accompanied by Prince Philip, Greek by birth and first cousin of Queen Sofía, the most photographed woman in history (as the chroniclers of the time told us) visited Madrid, Seville and Barcelona.
In the Spanish parliament, Queen Elizabeth gave a speech in which she called Spain’s transition to democracy “one of the most brilliant pages in the long and proud history of your nation”, which was greeted by several minutes of applause. Two years earlier, Juan Carlos had become the first monarch to address the British parliament.
The Queen never called Juan Carlos (he abdicated in 2014) King Emeritus, as she believed a king was a king until the day he died, but his example was continued by her son, Felipe VI , during a state visit with his wife the Queen. Letizia in July 2017.
She sealed the relationship between the two royal families, and today they are both in mourning.