St. Augustine Welcomes Spanish King, Queen
Ten days after the anniversary of the Spanish landing at St. Augustine, the king and queen of Spain landed on the First Coast to celebrate.
King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano’s visit marks 14 years since the last time Spanish royalty visited America’s oldest city.
Felipe also visited the White House for the first time since taking the throne last year.
A crowd of a few hundred gathered in St. Augustine’s Town Plaza to hear King Felipe the sixth of Spain commemorate the city’s 450th anniversary from the balcony of the city’s historic Government House.
Perhaps no one stood out more among the throng than Teresa Mendez.
Mendez was covered from head to toe in traditional 18th century Spanish garb complete with period jewelry, an umbrella and a single red rose.
If you saw her around town it’d be easy to confuse her for a living history actor, but she said what she wore is not a costume.
“I wore this outfit because I absolutely wanted to. I love Valencia, and as I said, I wore it because I wanted to,” she said.
Mendez said her husband is Spanish, but he found having a couple drinks at the Casa Monica Hotel a better use of his time.
But for Beacon of Hope Christian School Spanish teacher Letizia Reyes-Douglas, nothing could have kept her from bringing her students to see the royal visitors.
She said the class has a test, but the visit is the perfect opportunity to introduce them to Hispanic culture.
One student, Daniel Odoya, is already a bit of an expert. He’s part of an exchange program and he’s from Spain.
He said he’s seen his king and queen on the TV news, but never in person, until today.
When King Felipe takes the microphone, he says the relationship between his country and the U.S. is stronger than ever.
“It is something we can all be proud of. Spaniards and Americans united as we are by an inspiring past and a promising future as friends and as allies,” Felipe said.
And though today is his first time in America’s oldest city, he said it won’t be his last.
The king also participated in the annual U.S. – Spanish Council meeting.