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King Edward in Cartagena
08 June 2010 @ 13:39

At the time when Her Majesty Queen Cristina was visiting the city’s hospitals, King Edward of England and King Alfonso XIII of Spain were sailing around in the English navy battleships “Queen” and “Venerable”.

On board the “Queen”, the Lord Admiral treated them to a lunch, attended by Queen Cristina.  The banquet was held in the royal dining room which was permanently decorated with sporting trophies and pieces of artwork seized over a long period of time by the captain and crew.  As soon as the lunch was over, the monarchs returned to their respective ships which were moored alongside the “Queen”.   In the evening, the King of Spain paid a visit to the batteries and the arsenal of weapons before attending a banquet with the King of England on his ship, the regal “Victoria and Albert”, with the cutlery and vases, heavily decorated with carnations and roses, rolling left to right due to the heavy swell of the sea.   Queen Cristina was dressed in purple with sparking jewelry and the English sovereign was wearing dark grey and also heavily adorned with jewelry and with pretty flowers at her chest.   Accompanied by Kings Alfonso and Edward, the Spanish General Captain and the English Admiral respectively, the English monarch was wearing for the first time the high rank uniform which he had been given just the day previous.   Princess Victoria was wearing a black dress with jewelry.  English music played throughout the mea, starting with the march entitled “Long Live King Alfonso and Queen Victoria”, based on the “Royal March”, and followed by various regional pieces from Great Britain played on instruments unknown in Spain. 

On making a toast, King Edward improvised in English, congratulating himself on his visit to Cartagena and announced his intention to visit Madrid.  He made a tender dedication to Queen Victoria, giving his congratulations on the birth of the heir to the crown, claiming that this would be a new link bonding together the English and Spanish royal families.  He paid a warm tribute to the talent and the virtues of the Queen Mother and ended by toasting to the health of the King and Queen and the people of Spain.  Alfonso XIII responded by congratulating himself on having welcomed the English monarchs into Spanish waters and he assured them of the deepest support from his nation.  He then made a toast to the prosperity of the royal family and the English people.   The Kings spoke to each other alone, but only for a brief time.   The departure was very friendly, the Kings shaking hands, kissing each other on the cheek and saying, “So long, until we meet again”.   The King of Spain also kissed Queen Alexandra.   The Queens also said their goodbyes the same way.   The following day the King and Queen of Spain left for Madrid by train and the English monarchs set sail in their ship, heading for Malta.  The members of the English entourage were all given a gift of a Spanish crucifix and the Spanish crew received English medals.    The meeting in Cartagena was described in glowing terms by all the English newspapers and was considered as a great sign of understanding with England.

The Standard said, “England and Spain have common interests which we all have no objection in recognizing.  Although they don’t yet think this way in many other European capital cities,  in the interests of Europe and maybe even other continents, they are strengthening the ties which bind these two western countries”.

The Times: “It is not simply the royal wedding which contributes towards bringing together Great Britain and Spain, but the common interests of both nations which, albeit not as essential as during the period of Lord Wellington, put great value on the understanding between both countries”.

King Edwards headed to Italy to repeat the actions of Cartagena with the King of Italy.  The political goal of the journey could not have been clearer. 

A few days after the royal visit to Cartagena, “La Epoca” published the following official notice from the Government:
    “Before the meeting between  the King and Queen of Spain and of England, we explained the reasons and the importance of such success in a way that highlighted the fact that this was an act of courtesy between the two sovereigns, without the presence of the Spanish Ministers of State and of the Navy,  validated by the official nature of the visit and without the assistance of the President of Council changing in any way the nature of things.”

However, behind all of these events were the consequences and the developments from meetings which had taken place many years earlier; the Conferences of The Hague and Algeciras were both high on everyone’s agenda, including the parallel conversations between the Spanish ministers and Sir Charles Harding and Sir John A. Fischer.

Written by Jesús Castro

Translated by Rachael Harrison

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