Spain’s King Felipe VI will pay a State Visit to the United Kingdom in June, Spanish media reported. The visit, which has not been formally confirmed by either the British or Spanish governments, would be the first visit by a Spanish monarch to the UK in over three decades.
King Felipe had accepted an invitation from the Queen in December 2015 to visit the UK accompanied by Queen Letizia. But the visit, which was initially scheduled for March 2016, had to be postponed after an inconclusive general election in Spain led to a prolonged period of political uncertainty.
This week Spanish government sources told El Pais that the visit was now slated to go ahead in June this year. If confirmed, it will be the royal couple’s first visit to the UK since Felipe became king in June 2014 following the abdication of his father, King Juan Carlos.
The last State Visit from Spain was by King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia in 1986, while the Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh paid a State Visit to Spain in 1988. There was also speculation in the UK media as to the forthcoming visit.
The Daily Mail’s irreverent ‘Ephraim Hardcastle’ column said the visit was “now back on”, according to court sources. “Will the Spaniards use the occasion to make Gibraltar a bargaining chip during Brexit negotiations?” the Mail asked.
The column noted that last September at the United Nations, King Felipe had raised the issue of Gibraltar during a speech to the General Assembly.
“I invite the UK, on this first occasion at the UN after Brexit, to end the colonial anachronism of Gibraltar with an agreed solution between both countries to restore the territorial integrity of Spain and bring benefits to the people of Gibraltar and the Spanish area of Campo de Gibraltar,” the monarch said at the time.
The newspaper’s source added: “Everyone hopes the Queen’s legendary ability to charm her guests will work its customary magic”