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Palabras de Su Majestad el Rey en la cena de gala conmemorativa del 135º Aniversario de la Cámara de Comercio de España en el Reino Unido

11.21.2022

First of all, I would like to thank you for this invitation to celebrate together 135th years of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce here in the United Kingdom. It was 10 years ago or, more accurately, 11 years ago, that both Queen Letizia and I (then as Prince and Princess of Asturias) had the honor and pleasure to join all of you for a similar −and also special− occasion: then it was 125th years we were celebrating. This time, unfortunately, she cannot be with us, but indeed she did ask me to pass on her regards and her happy anniversary wishes to all of you.

This is my first time in the UK since we attended the funerals of the late Queen Elizabeth II. Therefore, allow me tonight, to begin my remarks paying tribute to one of the greatest monarchs of British history. It will probably take years, if not decades, to fully understand her legacy, after 70 years of service as Queen and Head of State.

In my family, we keep very fond memories of the many occasions we have shared with Queen Elisabeth, with Prince Philip, the late Duke of Edinburgh, and all the British Royal Family. And, of course, Queen Letizia and I remember very specially our State Visit to the United Kingdom in July 2017. That was –probably many of you don’t know this− but that was Prince Philip’s last State Visit beside the Queen, as hosts, before he soon later discharged his duties and we always thanked him for that gesture.

Today, this strong affinity continues, and I am certain it will develop and prosper in many new ways. I wish the best to HM King Charles III as he rises to meet the challenges of a modern, 21st Century Monarchy, in a country with global significance and responsibilities. In Spain, we certainly look forward to receiving him, and the Queen Consort, for a State Visit or whatever the occasion may be.

At this point, I would like to thank him, thank King Charles for his warm welcome today at Clarence House. An extraordinarily warm meeting between two parliamentary monarchs united by family and personal ties.

 Of course, I also wish the new Prince and Princess of Wales much success in their new responsibilities, in the wake of such an extensive and remarkable experience they are to follow and continue, indeed with their own touch and personality.

Ladies and gentlemen,

History bounds Spain and the United Kingdom by ancient and deep-rooted ties. Not always have we agreed on everything but, indeed, what our two nations have often done is to lead History while looking beyond the Oceans.

Since the first Spanish globalisation, in the 16th century, and the first British Industrial Revolution to the intense and complex globalisation of today, Spain and the UK have always lead the way with a personality of their own. We are both now solid democracies. We share the same values and principles of freedom, pluralism and solidarity.

Back in 1886, the world was radically different and yet, we —Spaniards— were already establishing a permanent trading mission here in London. The Spanish Chamber of Commerce in the United Kingdom was founded after the crucial Trade Agreement accepted by both British and Spanish trade negotiators, in which, for the first time in our long histories, we applied reciprocally “the most favoured nation clause”.

"...Many events have taken place over those 135 years, some of them very difficult, many others hopeful and successful. It is undeniable that, during all that time, both of our countries have traded with and invested in each other. Indeed, throughout that time, the Spanish Ch.Com. has helped −in the UK− to promote the best interests of the economic relationship between our nations. The long history of this Chamber teaches us that good principles and good will are essential to overcome most obstacles. Both our Kingdoms are advanced economies that share the same values and, for that reason and our geographic proximity, we are top rate trade partners...."

The latter meant that Britain and Spain committed to apply the best possible standards to their treatment of each other in their trade relationships. Since then, this clause has formed the basis of all our trade agreements. As you know, it is nowadays the cornerstone of the WTO and, of course, the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the UK and the EU, which governs our current trade relations (after Brexit). 

Many events have taken place over these 135 years, some of them indeed very difficult, many others hopeful and successful. It is undeniable that, during all that time, both of our countries have traded with and invested in each other. Indeed, throughout that time, the Spanish Chamber of Commerce has helped −in the UK− to promote the best interests of the economic relationship between our nations.

The long history of this Chamber teaches us that good principles and good will are essential to overcome most obstacles. Both our Kingdoms are advanced economies that share the same values and, for that reason and our geographic proximity, we are top trade partners.

Spain is not only a friend of the UK but also an important ally in several fields. And I’m not talking about defensive allies, which we are as well in the NATO framework. Our relation is stronger than ever and Spanish companies are participating in many large projects and initiatives that transform and develop the British economy. This country is the 2nd destination, as we know, for Spanish FDI direct investment and that is why when Spanish companies go abroad, they are very likely to come here to this country. The dynamism, growth and importance of this Chamber is an eloquent example of this.

In fact, since you represent such a special meeting point for British and Spanish businesses here, it is no surprise that 4 years ago you would adequately create the “Barometer of Spanish Investments in the UK”, which every year analyses Spanish investments in this country and gathers representatives from both governments. I, in fact, had a good look at it before I came here today.

I would like to thank the Board for the extraordinary work it does. Voluntary work, in whichever shape it may come, surely makes our societies better. We would not be here otherwise. There is commitment, there is sense of duty and above all, there is a strong desire to strengthen the bilateral relations and exchanges between both our countries.

I would also like to thank all the Spanish companies present here tonight, especially those of you who travelled from Spain for the occasion −as I did− to take part in this celebration. Many of you play an essential role in key sectors like construction, infrastructure, financial services, telecommunications... It’s a long list, sorry not to mention all of you.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Today, as we celebrate this 135th anniversary, I would like to congratulate you as one of our oldest chambers of commerce, out of close to 50 that operate around the world. With this anniversary, we are celebrating the continuity and importance of economic links, which are and always will be, above all, links that develop, that help our societies prosper −both here in the UK and in Spain−, and bring our citizens, corporations and institutions much, much closer.

The world and indeed Britain have drastically changed in the last few years. In Europe, we now witness a war that challenges the foundations upon which we have built our societies. Even so, however the seriousness of that war −let alone the tragic loss of life and destruction suffered by Ukraine− and the myriad of economic political and social consequences worldwide, we still have −the UK and Spain− an extraordinary opportunity to build on the solid foundation of our historic relationship.

We, therefore, ought to continue our quest in order to make real our aspirations for an even more prosperous future in both of our great nations. To achieve this, institutions that enhance the efforts of both our governments and civil societies, like this very same Chamber are and will remain essential.

My sincere congratulations on your 135th birthday, and all my support in what is −I am quite sure−, your determination to keep up the good work.

Thank you very much.

Itzuli Hitzaldiak atalera
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