September 15, 2015 was a very special day for Dona Letizia, the Queen of Spain. Not only was it her birthday (43), but she had a very busy day in the USA. She and King Felipe were going to start the day with a tour of George Washington’s plantation and home city of Mount Vernon, Virginia, then meet President and Mrs. Obama at the White House, and then spend the evening at a party for the Spanish colony in Washington, DC at the Ambassador of Spain’s residence.
The Royals of Spain
George Washington’s home has been preserved as a historical site, accurately depicting life in the USA in the late 1700’s. Not only are the buildings preserved, but people reenact the jobs done back in those days while dressed in period costume. Like any tourists the Royal couple enjoyed their tour of such a living museum. They particularly enjoyed the Fred W. Smith Library, the official library of President George Washington, where you can see among other collections of George Washington an original four volume edition of Don Quixote written in Spanish and was a gift of the Spanish Court. This work has been preserved in a way that does not show any age, an amazing achievement and this makes it a centerpiece of the library’s collection. The Queen Letizia in Virgínia
After that trip the Royal Couple was received by the President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle at the White House. King Felipe and President Obama had a private meeting in the famed Oval Office in the White House, and then gave statements to the press. While King Felipe was proud to see how Spanish companies employ more than 80,000 Americans, he no doubt would like more American companies investing in Spain and creating jobs there.
The King Felipe and Obama
He also noted the fact that the Royals would be visiting St. Augustine, Florida for the 450th anniversary of the oldest Spanish (and European) city in the Hemisphere, highlighting the close bond between the two nations. The President then reminded everyone that Spanish is the second most spoken language in the United States, and that Spain is the favorite destination of US students to study abroad. The President mentioned that Queen Letizia and his wife Michelle have common interests in areas like hunger and nutrition. The Queen Letizia with Mrs. Obama in The White House
King Felipe in his remarks noted that his Father had a relationship with many Presidents of the USA and that he was pleased to make his first visit in an official capacity as the head of the Spanish state. He recalled his two years as a student at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. He also reflected upon the shared history of the two countries and mentioned Bernardo de Gálvez, a Spaniard who played an important role in the formative days of the USA in the 1700’s and whose portrait hangs in the room where the Senate Foreign Relations Committee meets. Gálvez aided the original American Thirteen Colonies in their quest for independence and led Spanish forces against Britain in the Revolutionary War, defeating the British at the Siege of Pensacola (1781) and reconquering Florida for Spain. Portrait of Gálvez and statue of Fr. Serra
The King also mentioned Friar Junípero Serra’s statue, located near the portrait of Gálvez, who played an important role in the formation of the USA and is soon to be canonized by Pope Francis. Fr. Serra led the effort to establish communities from the border of Mexico up the West Coast of the USA and strategically blocked Russian explorers from making claims in the Pacific Northwest region of the USA. The USA purchased Alaska from the Russian Empire in 1867. Imagine how different the world would have been with a Russian colony in the Americas.
While the King and President Obama met, Queen Letizia and Mrs. Obama also had a meeting. They both have interest in projects focused on expanding health and nutrition programs. Interestingly enough, their problems with nutrition for the poor are quite different. While Queen Letizia deals with hunger and malnutrition, Mrs. Obama must address the problem of too many fat people, especially children. The food in the USA is very high in calories and fat and makes you gain weight. Mrs. Obama has been trying to get people to eat healthy, less processed foods, and exercise more in her “Let’s Move” program. Mrs. Obama also showed the Queen the famed White House Kitchen Garden, which she uses to promote eating fresh vegetables and fruits.
In different ways, both the Queen and Mrs. Obama are fashion people. The Queen is seen as an international beauty and fashion icon, her outfits in public meticulously recorded by the media and paparazzi. In the eyes of the USA Mrs. Obama represents the first fashion conscious First Lady since Jacqueline Kennedy over 40 years ago. As such, the press in the USA gives her outfits a lot of attention and the top designers support her public appearances. For her meeting with Mrs. Obama the Queen chose an $875 black and white dress from her go-to Spanish designer, Felipe Varela. It was beautiful and on the outside she wore a white coat with a magnificent cut in waist. The Queen and Mrs. Obama have similar taste
Later in the evening, after a visit to Capitol Hill, the Royal couple went to Foxhall Road in Northwest Washington, DC. The King and Queen were entertained by Ambassador Ramón Gil-Casares at his palatial ambassadorial residence with a small reception including diplomats, a handful of King Felipe’s former Georgetown classmates, and Spaniards who live here and chose to open up companies. The king attended Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service for his master’s degree in 1995, and the reunion with his school chums friends was one of the highlights of his Washington visit, according to one guest in attendance. The General Consul In Washington DC, Enrique Sardás Valls with Queen Letizia The Royals in “Besamano” at residence of embassador of Spain in Washington DC
For the afternoon visit to the Senate and evening party Queen Letizia was elegant as usual, and wore an off-the-rack, navy top and skirt by Nina Ricci, a Paris-based designer whose label is owned by Spanish fashion conglomerate Puig. The beautiful, sequined ensemble retails for about $5,000, and she complemented her outfit with a small, tasteful handbag and classic shoes. The elegant Queen Letizia in Washington, DC
The Royal couple was very gracious to all the attendees, and the King and Queen did a formal reception line, greeting each guest in turn with a kind word. Afterwards, both the the King and Queen mingled with the guests, and of course Queen Letizia was the center of attention, and everyone wanted to speak with her. Since the Royals of Spain are accustomed to the new life of being treated not only as royals but as stars, they are two pop stars that people want to touch, take pictures with, and talk to. The Royals of Spain came to Washington, DC and left behind traces of a mature Spain, a showed a Spain prepared for the future, and one brightened by the charm of a young modern monarchy. The younger USA, and more modern, also learned some lessons that on the other side of the Atlantic the Old World still has much to teach the New.
Article by Angelica Ferrer