the blood and political ties that united the two monarchs

The death of Elizabeth II fell like a hammer on a large part of the British population, who saw how one of its most beloved and by far oldest queens died at her residence in Balmoral (Scotland) at the age of 96 and is preparing for several days of funeral elegies. However, in Spain there is also a grieving family: the Royal House, whose greatest representatives, Juan Carlos I and Felipe VI, had a direct family relationship with the late Elizabeth II, with whom they exchanged messages and meetings over the decades.

Moreover, Juan Carlos I, who has been known for years for his folklore, he referred to Elizabeth II privately and affectionately as ‘Aunt Lilibeth’nickname which King Felipe also gave him, although the direct family relationship they had with the British sovereign through his paternal family was not exactly that of aunt and nephew in the first degree. The connection goes back to the emeritus’ grandmother, Victoria Eugenia -married to Alfonso XIII and mother of Don Juan-, who was in turn the granddaughter of Queen Victoria, from whom Elizabeth II also descends.

Moreover, if the late Duke of Edinburgh is taken into account, the blood ties between the two families intensify. And it is that the Spanish monarch and his former British counterparts and Queen Sofía they are all direct descendants of what is called the “grandmother of Europe”, who reigned from 1837 to 1901 and built a vigorous genealogy throughout the Old Continent which earned him the nickname. Of course, in the case of Elizabeth II, she is a generation closer to the great British rulerbeing his great-granddaughter.

In this sense, it is interesting to point out that in addition to this link, Philip of Edinburgh, a native of Corfu (Greece), had his main roots in the Greek family, for which he also had consanguinity with Queen Sofía, of whom he was the second uncle. But the family fabric is even more complicated, since Juan Carlos I was also related in terms of kinship with Felipe of Edinburgh: Kaiser Wilhelm II was the great-grandfather of the Queen of Spain and grandfather of the Duke.

To this must be added that the mother of Philip of Edinburgh, Alice of Battenbergwas also a first cousin of Victoria Eugenia and therefore the wife of Alfonso XIII and grandmother of Juan Carlos I. In other words, many blood ties which are further strengthened in the case of Felipe VI and the prince Carlos, who by uniting the family trees of their parents have multiple family ties, although always distant.

From meetings without knowing English to official visits

In any case, the family bond was largely responsible for the fact that first Don Juan Carlos, then King Felipe and their respective partners establish a close relationship and show cordiality in the mutual visits they arranged. The most memorable moment came in 1986, when Juan Carlos and Sofía arrived in the UK and Elizabeth II entertained them with attention and great comfort at Windsor Castle and gave Felipe VI’s father Queen Victoria’s necklace. . Two years later, in 1988, the British queen visited knowing Palma de Mallorca, Seville and Barcelonawhere she was seen enjoying a flamenco show.

But the first meeting between the King Emeritus and the Queen came long before that, when the first was only a ten-year-old boy and refused to learn English despite his father’s insistence. It was then that Don Juan took advantage of a vacation that coincided with the British royal family to ask Elizabeth II to sit next to the young heir “so that he would be ashamed of not being able to answer your questions”. According to the king emeritus, it was so: he could not hold a conversation with the queen and very quickly realized that, despite his stubbornness, English was a key language in the world.

Over the years, Isabel and Juan Carlos have come to communicate perfectly, cAs demonstrated by the official visits of the 1980s, but also by many other appointments over the decades. For example, in 2002, Her Gracious Majesty celebrated 50 years on the throne with, among other festivities, a dinner for the various European royal houses and a meeting, also in Windsor, of members of the order of the garter. Neither Don Juan Carlos nor Doña Sofía missed either of the two appointments.

Of course, Felipe VI continued the tradition: In July 2017, the Spanish monarchs made their first state trip as kings and stayed at Buckingham Palace. Additionally, they returned in 2019 as guests at the monarch’s proclamation as a Knight of the Order of the Garter, which Elizabeth II also bestowed on Juan Carlos in 1989.

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