Lord Speaker thanks King of Spain for address to Parliament

The Lord Speaker, Lord Fowler.
12 July 2017

The King of Spain, King Felipe VI, addressed members of both Houses of Parliament in the Royal Gallery of the House of Lords on Wednesday 12 July. The Lord Speaker, Lord Fowler, thanked King Felipe for his speech.

Lord Fowler said:

"Your Majesties, my Lords, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

First, I would like to thank your Majesty for your speech and say how much we appreciate your words about Jo Cox MP, PC Keith Palmer and all the other victims of the attacks we have witnesses in recent times. We appreciate your words greatly.

Some of us present here today will remember that thirty one years ago we had the privilege of receiving your father, King Juan Carlos, and we all very much admire the personal role that he played in the restoration of democracy in your country.

Your Majesty, as you said, in past years our two countries headed up two of the largest empires the world has known and so of course it is true that our interests did not always coincide. One of these paintings on the wall of this Royal Gallery illustrates this point—but that is only a snapshot—if something that large can be called a snapshot.

On the other side of the Royal Gallery we find a time when both our countries were allies—in particular in what we call the Peninsular War and you, your Majesty, with true significance call the War of Independence when we stood shoulder to shoulder against the Napoleonic forces on the Iberian Peninsula.

As I think you may know, we have a descendent of the Iron Duke here in the House of Lords and he is here today—the Duke of Wellington—who also proudly bears the Spanish title of the Duke of Ciudad Rodrigo.

That is one aspect of the modern closeness and friendship between our two nations. We do not always agree on every issue. Gibraltar is one which you mentioned.

But in so many fundamental respects we are close together. In our different ways we have both developed into democratic constitutional monarchies which continue to uphold and respect the rule of law. The Queen here and your Majesties in Spain represent the underling values of our respective nations over and above the everyday business of political debate.

What is also true is that as the years go by the links between us grow stronger.

  • Spanish is the fastest growing language taught in our schools;
  • The United Kingdom was the principal European destination for Spanish foreign direct investment in 2015 and the United Kingdom is the third largest investor in Spain; and
  • In terms of visits to Spain something like 18 million British tourists travel to Spain each year and hundreds of thousands of British citizens choose to live there—which speaks volumes, your Majesty for the friendly reception they receive in your country.

I know that this relationship will continue to grow and flourish in the coming years, even as we leave the European Union.

Most of all we in this country admire and share your values. On the day of your enthronement you said:

“You will find in me a loyal head of state who is ready to listen and understand, warn and advise as well as defend the public interest at all times”.

They are good and strong words which have a resonance in any democracy.

Your Majesties, it is a great privilege for us that you have come to the United Kingdom. We warmly welcome you here and, if I may, I would like to close in the way which is traditional in Spain: “Viva el Rey!”"

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Image: House of Lords 2016 / Photography Annabel Moeller

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