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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

UK welcomes king and queen of Spain with military pomp

The three-day state visit by King Felipe VI and his wife, Queen Letizia, came amid rising tensions between Spain and Britain over what Brexit means for the future of Gibraltar, a tiny British territory which borders Spain.

LONDON // Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and her husband welcomed the king and queen of Spain with an extravagant military ceremony on Wednesday.

The three-day state visit by King Felipe VI and his wife, Queen Letizia, came amid rising tensions between Spain and Britain over what Brexit means for the future of Gibraltar, a tiny British territory which borders Spain.

There was no sign of discord as the Spanish royals arrived at Buckingham Palace, however, with Britain treating them to the full pomp and pageantry traditionally rolled out for visiting heads of state.

Queen Elizabeth's husband, Prince Philip, and King Felipe first inspected troops at central London's Horse Guards Parade, a former royal jousting yard. Dozens of soldiers on horseback then escorted both monarchs and their spouses in a spectacular procession down The Mall, decorated with Union Jack and Spanish flags. King Felipe rode with the queen in the 1902 State Landau, a gilded carriage built for the coronation of King Edward VII, while Prince Philip travelled with Queen Letizia in a separate carriage.

King Felipe and Queen Letizia are the first Spanish monarchs to visit Britain since King Felipe's father toured the country in 1983.

King Felipe is expected to speak about Gibraltar when he addresses the British parliament later onWednesday.

He and his wife will then dine at a state banquet in the ballroom of Buckingham Palace, where they are staying.