LONDON – King Felipe VI of Spain expressed on Thursday his affection, admiration and respect for Spaniards living in the United Kingdom and offered his respects to his compatriots who lost their lives in recent terror attacks.
Spain’s monarch gave a speech at the Spanish embassy in London, where some 500 hundred of the estimated 300,000 Spaniards living in the UK – 130,000 are officially registered as residents – gathered to hear his address which formed part of an official state visit.
“Not everyone is here today. We are missing two people in particular: Aysha Frade and Ignacio Echeverría, whose lives were cruelly shortened, along with citizens from the UK and other countries, by the cowardice of terrorism in recent months,” Felipe said, opening the speech he gave accompanied by Queen Letizia.
Frade, a British national with roots in Spain’s Galicia region, was killed during the March 22 terror attack outside Westminster; Echeverría died during the June 3 attack on London Bridge whilst trying to protect others from the terrorists as they undertook a stabbing rampage.
“We will always remember the generosity and heroism of Ignacio, who, valiantly, put his own life in danger – and tragically lost it – trying to save others. We will always have both (victims) in our hearts,” said the Spanish head of state.
The death of both Spanish victims in the UK proved that terrorism knew no borders and nobody was out of its reach, Felipe said, highlighting the importance of cooperation in the fight against terror and adding that it was more necessary than ever to protect “our rights and our values.”
The royal couple expressed their closeness to all Spaniards living in the UK and acknowledged that many of his compatriots had relocated from their homes to escape the unemployment crisis that Spain suffered in recent years.
Spaniards have contributed to the UK in a wide range of sectors including medicine, economy, culture, health, education and sport.
He said he was aware that many Spaniards wished to stay in the UK following its withdrawal from the European Union and assured those concerned that he was confident the Brexit negotiations would soon bring certainty in that regard.