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Spanish royals cancel state visit to Britain amid govt woes

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Spanish royals cancel state visit to Britain amid govt woes
Photo: AFP
16:37 CET+01:00
King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia have called off the first state visit to Britain in more than three decades because of the failure of Spain to form a government.

A statement from Spain's Foreign Ministry confirmed: "Due to the process of forming a new government currently underway in Spain, the state visit has been postponed."

Spain's palace announced on December 3rd that King Felipe and Queen Letizia had accepted an invitation from the British Queen to pay a State Visit to the United Kingdom from 8th to 10th March 2016. 

It would have been the royal couple's first visit to the United Kingdom since Felipe became king in June 2014, after his father, King Juan Carlos abdicated. 

But the trip has fallen victim to the political quagmire that Spain has suffered since the inconclusive general election on December 20th.

The country has been mired in uncertainty since the December election saw the incumbent conservative PP win most seats but fall short of an absolute majority, as voters flocked to two upstart political groupings, ending Spain's long-established two-party system and creating a deeply fragmented parliament.

This week saw the King nominate Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez as the candidate charged with attempting to form a government after acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy admitted he was not in a position to do so.

The King has had to step up to guide Spain through unchartered territory as the political parties struggle to find consensus, and with the threat of new elections looming.

The last state visit by Spanish royalty to the UK was by King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia in 1986, while the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh last paid a 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 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.

King Felipe and Queen Letizia were due to stay at Windsor Castle during the three-day visit. 

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.

The Spanish royals have made several foreign trips since taking to the throne in 2014, including to the United States in September 2015. 

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