In an address to Parliament today at the beginning of his British State Visit, King Felipe of Spain has said Brexit saddens him and his people, and that an ‘acceptable agreement’ for all could be found for the contentious issue of Gibraltar’s sovereignty.
The King spoke in the House of Lords, addressing both chambers, an offer that is only extended to the leaders of the UK’s close allies, after a ceremonial welcome at Horse Guards Parade followed by lunch with The Queen, where he was given copies of love letters from his great-grandmother, Princess Victoria Eugenie of Britain (daughter of Queen Victoria) to King Alfonso XIII.
Felipe and Letizia also had tea with Prince Charles and Camilla before the couple headed to the Palace of Westminster.
— Clarence House (@ClarenceHouse) July 12, 2017
He said Britain and Spain have a long-shared history – which in fact spans back to Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon’s marriage in 1509 – and have “frequently stood shoulder to shoulder” as friends, partners and allies.
“It is just as true, however, that during our rich and fruitful history there have also been estrangements, rivalries and disputes,” Felipe continued, speaking in English. “But the work and determination of our governments, authorities and citizens have relegated such events to the past.
“I am certain that this resolve to overcome our differences will be even greater in the case of Gibraltar and I am confident that through the necessary dialogue and effort, our two governments will be able to work towards arrangements that are acceptable to all involved.”
Some MPs had threatened to walk out of the address if the King approached the issue in anything other than a friendly or conciliatory manner.
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) July 12, 2017
The Spaniard added that any Brexit deal must give British and Spanish citizens living in the other nation a fair chance. On the topic of Brexit, Felipe said the outcome of last year’s vote ‘saddens’ Spain but that his country ‘fully respects’ the will of the British people represented by the referendum.
“I therefore urge our two governments to continue working to ensure that the agreement on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU provides sufficient assurance and certainty.”
The Monarch also praised the British following the recent terrorist attacks, which he called ‘cowardly terrorist violence’, and remembered murdered MP Jo Cox.