Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Waiting and watching for the King and Queen of Spain

Yesterday on the last day of their State Visit to the UK the King and Queen of Spain visited Oxford.

Having found out roughly the times of their arrival I got to the area by the steps to the Sheldonian theatre in good time. I was joined early on by several other "royal-watchers"and a Spanish family whose bespectacled teenage son had arrived complete with his own red and yellow flag to wave. The crowd built up  and the great and the good as well as officials and schoolchildren arrived, and in their case were provided with Spanish flags to wave by people from the Embassy. Some Spanish women near me hailed those distributing them across the road for flags which were duly provided.

Escorted by motorcyle outriders the car from the Royal mews glided to a halt just opposite me - and was a sight in itselfas it gleamed in the sun. The King and Queen alighted and immediately made for the welcoming group of children before visiting the Weston Library.

The King and Queen of Spain with schoolchildren outside the Weston Library

Image: ox.ac.uk

At that point I had to go and give a guided tour to some customers, but realised from the crowd still hanging around the entrance to Exeter College on the Broad that the visitors had not yet arrived there. At this point I ran into a friend and told him what was happening and we took station in the middle of the Broad by the motorcycles and their riders and the series of people-carriers, emblazoned appropriately with the Union or Spanish flag, for the suites in attendance.

The King and Queen walked from the lunch in the Divinity School along to Exeter College - the centre in many ways of Spanish studies in Oxford - for a reception with Hispanic academics and students and stopped to talk to well-wishers at the gate. Here I spotted the Spanish teenager with his flag whom I had seen earlier. His patience - and evident loyalty - was rewarded by a conversation with the King. We waited, talking at one point to one of the Police motorcyclists as he topped up the polish on his machine, until the Royal party re-emerged in their car to travel followed by the accompanying households to fly back to Spain from RAF Brize Norton. I joined in with the shouts of " Viva El Rey!"

The Oxford University website has an account of Their Majesties visit and also puts it in the wider historical and cultural context and can be viewed at  King and Queen of Spain visit Oxford 

Search ResultKing and Queen of Spain visit Oxford 

ITV News has film of the visit to the Weston Library and of the King and Queen at Exeter College accessible at King and Queen of Spain delight school children during visit to Oxford ...

I did have a real sense of witnessing history in the persons of the Spanish monarchs and not just of another page turning in the history of Oxford. Here were a very professional King and Queen, obviously relaxed and very approachable, but with immense dignity and firmness of purpose - and, yes, they do look just like their photographs...

Mind you, all that standing and waiting did not do much good for my rheumatic joints - but it was well worth it!

No comments: