A version of this story appeared in the April 8 edition of CNN’s Royal News, a weekly dispatch bringing you the inside track on Britain’s royal family. Sign up here.
When European royals come together, it tends to be for landmark moments like jubilees, weddings and funerals. So it was a nice change of pace this week when Prince Charles teamed up with Queen Letizia of Spain for a rare joint appearance.
The duo met at Auckland Castle in County Durham, northern England, where the two art lovers viewed Francisco de Zurbarán’s series of paintings “Jacob and His Twelve Sons.”
The 17th-century Spanish painter’s 13 life-sized works adorn the walls of the castle’s Long Dining Room and have been housed at the residence for 250 years.
The pair then officially opened the town’s new Spanish Gallery, the first exhibition space devoted exclusively to the art, history and culture of Spain in the UK.
Joint engagements such as these tend to be over shared interests.
Letizia’s passion for the arts is well known. She has consistently used her position to raise the profile of Spanish cultural projects globally and as such would have been keen to participate in this week’s events.
She’s also joined forces with Charles before, with the pair seen together in 2019 for the inauguration of the “Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light” exhibition at London’s National Gallery.
In light of Letizia’s involvement, we reached out to Claudia Rebaza, a correspondent for CNN en Español based in London, to find out more about how the royal visit was received back home. She tells us the Spanish press sang their Queen’s praises.
“The arrival of Queen Letizia with the heir to the British throne, Charles of England, has electrified local life for a few hours,” reported Spanish newspaper El Pais.
Another prominent publication, El Mundo, went even further, saying in a headline, “Prince Charles, surrendered to Queen Letizia,” a reference to the affectionate welcome the Prince of Wales gave her. “The Prince greeted her like a gentleman, outside the castle, and kissed her hand after two welcome kisses,” the newspaper described.
“It was one of the most anticipated moments and they have not disappointed,” one of Spain’s glossy magazines, Lecturas, wrote of the visit.
While the gesture may have seemed unexpectedly adoring, it was in fact the formal and deeply respectful way of greeting a woman of higher rank. Charles has often been seen greeting his mother in this way. But his use of the gesture here also emphasized the longstanding respect between the two royal families.
Letizia’s outfit and choice of hairstyle also made headlines, Rebaza explained – again not dissimilar to the scrutiny members of the Windsor clan face.
She tells us it’s quite common for the Spanish Queen’s style to be compared to that of the Duchess of Cambridge, for example, and that Letizia’s appearance – which has become more casual during the pandemic while remaining timelessly chic – has been praised by many as helping make her more relatable.
The visit was actually Letizia’s second trip to the UK this month as she and her husband, King Felipe VI, were among the European royals who attended Prince Philip’s memorial service at Westminster Abbey in London last week.
Felipe is distantly related to the British monarch. His paternal great-grandmother was Queen Victoria’s granddaughter Princess Victoria Eugenie, who became Queen Ena of Spain after marrying into the Spanish royal family.
And we could see more visits in future, as Felipe and Letizia’s daughter Princess Leonor, the current heir to the Spanish throne, is currently studying at the UWC Atlantic College in Wales.
WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING?
Camilla fangirls at Jane Austen’s house.
The Duchess of Cornwall undertook a very special royal engagement this week, making a pilgrimage to the former home of author Jane Austen at Chawton in Hampshire, southeast England. The cottage was Austen’s home in the last eight years of her life and is where she wrote all six of her beloved novels. Camilla was treated to a tour of the museum property by director Lizzie Dunford on Wednesday, starting in the drawing room, where she viewed a precious first edition of “Pride and Prejudice.” And it seems that, like many of us, the duchess was a fan of the BBC’s 1995 TV adaptation featuring Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. She appeared delighted to see his infamous white shirt displayed alongside other examples of Regency underwear from TV and film adaptations. Many will remember the scene where Firth emerged from a lake in the wet garment following a swim. “But he’s not in it, that’s a bit sad,” Camilla joked, according to Britain’s PA Media news agency. Viewers fell in love with the BBC’s retelling and it helped introduce a whole new generation to the 19th-century author’s work. Camilla, who is a passionate reader, recently named Austen’s protagonist Elizabeth Bennett as “a heroine of mine” while picking five literary characters to join her for a dinner party.
Princess Anne joins veterans for Falkland Islands service.
The Princess Royal paid tribute to those who fought in the Falklands War at a remembrance service on Tuesday. Accompanied by her husband, Vice Admiral Tim Laurence, she joined veterans and families at the service in St. Faith’s Chapel at St. Paul’s Cathedral to mark 40 years since the conflict. The Queen’s daughter wore her naval uniform adorned with her many service medals. The 71-year-old also observed a minute of silence to remember the lives lost, and laid wreaths at the South Atlantic Task Force Memorial within the cathedral. Anne has a long connection with the Women’s Royal Naval Service and is also Admiral and Chief Commandant for Women in the Royal Navy.
DID YOU KNOW?
Duke of York briefly returns to social media.
Prince Andrew seemed to make his return to a social platform this week when some of his words were posted on his ex-wife’s Instagram account. Over the weekend, Sarah Ferguson – who separated from the prince in the 1990s but has maintained a close relationship with him – shared a piece of writing from the Duke of York in three posts about his experience in the 1982 Falklands conflict. During the conflict, Andrew “flew missions including Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), Anti-Surface Warfare (ASUW), inter-ship Helicopter Delivery (HDS), Search and Rescue (SAR) and casualty evacuation,” according to the British monarchy’s website.
Ferguson kicked off the initial post, writing: “I asked Andrew this morning for his reflections on the anniversary of his sailing from Portsmouth to the Falkland Islands 40 years ago.” The caption then appeared to become Andrew’s thoughts, with his reflections beginning: “As I sit here at my desk on this cold crisp spring morning thinking back to April 1982 I’ve tried to think what was going through my mind as we sailed out of Portsmouth lining the flight deck of HMS INVINCIBLE.” He described how the crew thought the trip “would be a bit of posturing” but quickly “became serious” after stopping at Ascension Island “to offload training weapons and embark more live ammunition.”
He recalled the “terror” of being shot at as having had “a lasting and permanent effect on me.” Bringing the third post to a conclusion, Andrew wrote that he “returned a changed man” and “put away childish things and false bravado.” He ended: “My reflection makes me think even harder and pray even more fervently for those in conflict today, for those family’s torn apart by the horrors they have witnessed.” The last post was signed with “written by HRH The Duke of York.”
British media reported the “HRH” was later removed, which would align with Andrew losing the styling in January while he was still battling Virginia Giuffre’s historical claims of sexual assault. A royal source told CNN at the time that Andrew would no longer use the HRH style in any official capacity. His official Twitter and Instagram accounts were deleted days later.
The three posts remained online for several hours but have since been removed.
IN THE ROYAL DIARY
Queen keeps busy as Philip’s anniversary nears.
The Queen conducted several virtual audiences from Windsor this week as the first anniversary of the Duke of Edinburgh’s death looms. On Tuesday, the monarch – who turns 96 in two weeks – received the new ambassadors for Libya and the Republic of Congo on Tuesday. On Saturday it will be one year since Prince Philip died at Windsor aged 99. It’s expected the sovereign will mark the somber occasion privately.
However, there was one change to her diary on Friday when Buckingham Palace announced Charles and Camilla would represent the monarch at the annual Royal Maundy Service at St. George’s Chapel on April 14. The service is an ancient ceremony that dates back to 600 AD and, for Christians, recalls how Jesus washed the feet of the disciples at the Last Supper. The Queen observes Maundy by offering gifts to senior citizens put forward by local clergy of all denominations in recognition of their service to the church and to the local community. As part of the service, Elizabeth usually gives each recipient two leather purses that have been blessed: one red and one white.
FROM THE ROYAL VAULT
The Queen honors her husband’s naval legacy.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s naval uniform and his admiral’s cap is to go on display for the first time on the one-year anniversary of his death. The Queen recently donated the items to the National Museum Of The Royal Navy, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard for its upcoming new show, which celebrates the monarch’s close ties – personally and professionally – to the Royal Navy in her Platinum Jubilee year. The exhibition, which opens Saturday, will take “a fascinating look at both her role as ceremonial head of the Royal Navy and as granddaughter, daughter, wife and mother of naval officers,” according to a press release. One of Prince Charles’ flying suits and uniforms worn by Princess Anne will also feature in the exhibition.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
Prince Charles and Camilla pose for a group photo with the cast and crew of “EastEnders,” one of Britain’s longest-running soap operas, at Elstree Studios, just outside London, on March 31. During the royal visit, the show filmed a street party scene in which residents of Albert Square celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee – similar to the summer street parties we’ll see around the nation in June. Ever the gentleman, Charles noticed actress Letitia Dean was cold during the group snap and promptly draped his coat over her shoulders to keep her warm in the British spring air.
The monarch said this week she had “been following the news of the recent floods in Queensland and New South Wales closely” and expressed her sadness at “the loss of life and the scale of devastation.” In a condolence message to the Governor-General of Australia, the Queen said her “thoughts continue to be with those who have been impacted as the focus now turns to the long recovery phase ahead.”