EXPLAINER: Connection between the Spanish monarchy and the British monarchy

EXPLAINER: Connection between the Spanish monarchy and the British monarchy. Image: Aleksandar Mijatovic/Shutterstock.com

HERE we look at the historical and family ties that link the Spanish monarchy and the British.

The Spanish monarchy, which is led by King Felipe VI and the British monarchy, which is now led by King Charles III following the passing of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, are linked by family ties.

During his reign, King Felipe VI maintained a very close relationship with Elizabeth II and although their appearances together were limited to official acts, they were seen at some of the most important Windsors family gatherings, such as the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011.

Spain’s King is also known to have called the Queen ‘Aunt Lilibeth’ due to the fact that the family are related in some way, which we will explain now.

Family ties

The Spanish royal family and the British royal family form part of the so-called “royal cousins” because, like most European royals, they are descended from Queen Victoria – dubbed “the grandmother of Europe” – whose nine children linked all the reigning families at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century.

Felipe VI’s parents, Juan Carlos and Sofía, are great-great-grandchildren of Queen Victoria of England, as were Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip.

Felipe and Elizabeth are in fact third cousins once removed.

Prince Philip had even closer ties to King Felipe’s parents. He was a second uncle to Sofía since King George I of Greece was his grandfather and the great-grandfather of Felipe’s mother.

As for Juan Carlos I, his grandmother, Queen Victoria Eugenia, was a first cousin of the Duke of Edinburgh’s mother, Alice of Battenberg.

Notable meetings

In 1975, Elizabeth II and Philip of Edinburgh travelled to Madrid for Juan Carlos’ proclamation as King of Spain.

In 1986, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia travelled to the United Kingdom, the first official visit by a Spanish king to the UK in more than a century.

The Queen of England hosted them at Windsor Castle and presented King Juan Carlos with Queen Victoria’s necklace.

In 1988, Elizabeth II and Philip of Edinburgh made their only official trip to Spain.

During this trip, the British monarchs visited several Spanish cities – Seville, Palma de Mallorca, Barcelona – and even enjoyed a flamenco show. A gala dinner was held in honour of Isabella II at the Royal Palace in Madrid.

In 2017, Queen Elizabeth II awarded Felipe VI the distinction of knighthood of the Order of the Garter – the most important and oldest order of chivalry in the United Kingdom – during the state visit he made to London with Doña Letizia.

In 2019, the King and Queen of Spain returned to the United Kingdom for the official ceremony at Windsor Castle.

Felipe and the other recipients, including William of the Netherlands, were presented with the typical attire: ermine cloak, the ostrich-feather hat and the blue garter, the symbol of the Garter.


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Written by

Matthew Roscoe

Originally from the UK, Matthew is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]

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