The official residence of the British Ambassador to Spain, was the place to be yesterday, Thursday, June 2, as the British Embassy in Madrid hosted a special event to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
The garden party given by the ambassador, Hugh Elliott, and his wife Maria Antonia Elliott, brought British community and charity volunteers together for the festivities.
Hugh Elliott said that “ “The Queen has been on the throne through some of the most extraordinary moments of the last century, including the fall of the Berlin wall, and before that even the building of the Berlin wall!
“She has also seen 14 US presidents in office, as well as 14 British prime ministers”.
Indeed, when she ascended the throne in 1952, Spain was in the early years of the Franco regime and still suffering from widespread international isolation.
Spain was only admitted to the United Nations in 1955 and the World Bank in 1958.
Relations between Britain and Spain remained cordial, but far from warm, due in many respects to Franco´s irritation over Gibraltar .
In 1967 Franco closed the border to the colony after the population voted overwhelmingly to remain British.
The border was reopened 13 years later as Spain sought membership of the European Union and NATO.
Relations improved significantly as Spain became a favourite British holiday destination.
The Queen became the first reigning British monarch to visit Spain in 1988.
During the visit she warmly applauded the country return to democracy, telling Spanish MPs:“the democratic parliament before me, and the manner in which it was achieved, will stand out as one of the brightest pages in your nation’s long and proud history”.
The ambassador planted a tree in the residence´s garden as part of The Queen´s Green Canopy scheme.
Speaking about the event, The chairman of the oldest British charity in Spain, the British Benevolent Fund, Olaf Clayton, said that the event was a thank you to charity workers and volunteers from all over Spain – it was he said “a recognition of the hard work so many people here do to help vulnerable British nationals in Spain including those facing extreme financial hardship.
Some of those workers had been honoured in the Queen´s Birthday List.
Among them was Beverley Thompson, Treasurer and Vice-President of MABS Cancer Support who was awarded a British Empire Medal.
“Whilst MABS does not exclusively support British nationals, they fill the gap for many of my compatriots, who do not have family nearby to help them during a very difficult time,” British Ambassador Hugh Elliott said.
Larry Yaskiel, who runs one of the oldest English-language publications in the Canary Islands, was also awarded a British Empire Medal.
Brandon Jones, founding father of Gay Sitges Link and Sitges English Theatre Company, was awarded the British Empire Medal for his work in the region.
Hugh Elliott said: “Brandon is a true cultural ambassador and his annual festivals have strengthened links between the UK and Spain; in particular between Wales and the island of Ireland, and Catalonia,”
Lastly, Heather Muntaner, headteacher of Queen’s College in Mallorca for 30 years, was awarded an MBE for educational services providers to the promotion of British schooling, language, and tradition in Spain.
During her 30 years as headteacher, Heather Muntaner made Queen’s College one of many flagship British faculties in Spain with many college students occurring to check and work within the UK, and a raft of profitable alumni, together with Luis Vidal, the architect for Heathrow Terminal 2.
“It is thanks to the work and dedication of people like Heather that British education is so well regarded in Spain.” HMA Hugh Elliott mentioned.
Muntaner said that she wished to “share this honour with all those colleagues and team members, past and present”.