Spain’s caretaker government have cancelled the upcoming State Visit of King Felipe and Queen Letizia to the UK, amidst ongoing political difficulties in the country.
The Spanish Foreign Ministry said in a statement: “Due to the process of forming a new government currently underway in Spain, the state visit has been postponed.”
Buckingham Palace confirmed that The Queen has been informed, saying: “The Queen, of course, fully understands the decision and the context in which it was taken.” It added that it was too early to confirm what the future plans for the visit would be, given Her Majesty’s pre-planned engagements in a landmark year.
The visit was due to take place from the 8 to 10 March, and would have been the first formal State visit by Spanish royalty since King Felipe’s father, Juan Carlos, made the trip in 1986.
The news comes as the country faces ongoing political difficulties following Spain’s inconclusive general election last year. Spain has suffered from months of uncertainty after December 20 election saw the incumbent conservative party fall short of an absolute majority. The election created an increasingly fragmented parliament with voters choosing two upstart political groupings, casting out Spain’s long-established two-party system.
King Felipe has played an increasingly active role in the country’s political landscape throughout the crisis. As the political parties struggle to find consensus, the King asked the Socialist party’s leader, Pedro Sanchez, to attempt to form a new government. In a statement, read by parliamentary speaker Patxi Lopez, the King said: “I am putting forward Mr Pedro Sanchez Perez-Castejon as candidate for prime minister.”
The Spanish monarch traditionally nominates a candidate for prime minister following elections.
Felipe acceded to the throne in June 2014 after his father abdicated, following a 39-year reign. It was the first royal transition in Spain since democracy was restored in the 1970s.
The Spanish and British royal families have paid a number of visits to each other’s countries. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh last paid a visit to Spain in 1988 and, in 2011, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall paid a three-day official visit to Spain.
A few weeks later Queen Sofia, Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia attended the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding in London.
The news of this State Visit cancellation is the latest blow to Spain’s royal family, who have been mired by Infanta Christina’s ongoing tax fraud trial. It would have been Felipe and Letitia’s first official visit to the UK since becoming King and Queen.
The statement from the Spanish Foreign Ministry suggests that the visit might be re-arranged once the country has formed a stable government.
Royal Central will keep you updated of any developments on this story.