Queen Elizabeth II: Why she loves (and loathes) Spain

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Queen Elizabeth II: Why she loves (and loathes) Spain
Photo: AFP

As Her Majesty gets ready to celebrate her 90th birthday The Local explores her, sometimes, turbulent relationship with Spain.


LOATHE: The Gibraltar issue 

Photo: AFP

The issue of Gibraltar, the tiny British Overseas Territory bordering southern Spain, has been raging throughout the Queen’s reign, with both Britain and Spain claiming sovereignty of the territory. In 1967 Gibraltarians voted overwhelmingly to remain under British sovereignty which led dictator Francisco Franco to completely close the border between Gibraltar and Spain and sever all communication links. The border was partially reopened in 1982 and fully opened in 1985 just before Spain joined the European community and Queen Elizabeth made her first state visit to Spain.


LOVE: First visit to Spain

Queen Elizabeth began her first and only state visit to Spain on October 18th 1988. During the visit she addressed Spain’s parliament, where she paid tribute to the nation’s peaceful transition to democracy after the death of Franco in 1975. "The democratic Parliament before me, and the manner in which it was achieved, will stand out as one of the brightest pages in your nation's long and proud history," she said in a speech that was met with enthusiastic applause.

LOATHE: A Christmas crapper

Photo: AFP

The Queen of England might not be amused to learn that she has been immortalized as one of Catalonia’s favourite and most unusual Christmas decorations, a caganer - or crapper - a little statue of a person defecating that pops up in the background of many nativity scenes.  

LOVE: It's all relative 

Both the British and Spanish royal families descend from both Queen Victoria and Christian IX of Denmark. Queen Victoria’s great-grandson was Paul I of Greece, the father of Spain’s Queen Sofia who married her cousin, King Juan Carlos. They are the parents of the current Spanish monarch, King Felipe. Confusing? Just a bit. Although the blood lines have intermingled to a confusing extent over time, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Phillip, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia are all related - having all descended from Queen Victoria. 

LOATHE: Outranked by a Spaniard

Photo: AFP

Duchess, marchioness, countess, grand duchess… before her death in 2014, Spain’s Duchess of Alba, the frizzy-haired darling of the gossip columns, was the most titled woman in the world.


There’s a popular myth in Spain that the Duchess of Alba was so important that even the Queen of England had to curtsey before her. Unfortunately, it has no basis in truth - despite holding many more titles than the British monarch, the Duchess still had to curtsey when they met. 

LOVE: Her family members love to holiday in Spain

Photo: AFP

The queen’s grandchildren, Princes William and Harry often visit Spain to go hunting on the private estate of the Duke of Westminster, William’s godfather. At 32,000 acres, Finca La Garganta is one of the largest hunting estates in Western Europe and is located near the town of Conquista, on the border of Castilla La Mancha. 

LOATHE: They just can't get her name right 

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Despite 63 years on the throne, Her Majesty would not be impressed by the fact that the entire Spanish nation fails to know her name. Like all British royals, she is called by the Spanish version of her name and referred to as La Reina Isabel. 

LOVE: Last state visit?

After a few short state visits last year to the European republics of Ireland, Italy, France and Germany, speculation is mounting that a trip to visit her distant cousins in Spain might well be on the cards for 2016.

Spain's King Felipe and Queen Letizia had scheduled a state visit to London in March, paving a way for a return visit by the British monarch but the trip that had to be cancelled because it wasn't deemed correct for the Spanish head of state to be swanning off abroad while Spain had no government

So if Spain get its act together and finally forms a government maybe there will still be time for her Maj to celebrate her 90th year with a little tour round Iberia.

LOATHE: Abdication 

In June 2014 King Juan Carlos abdicated from the throne to pass the crown over to a younger monarch, his son Felipe. While Prince Charles was most likely to have been a keen observer of the handover, her Majesty may well have felt that it set a rather uncomfortable precendent.


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