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UK welcomes Spanish king and queen with military pomp

Associated Press logo Associated Press 7/12/2017 By SYLVIA HUI, Associated Press
Spain's King Felipe kisses the hand of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II as she greets him during a Ceremonial Welcome on Horse Guards Parade in London, Wednesday, July 12, 2017. The King and Queen of Spain are on a three day State Visit to Britain. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, Pool) © The Associated Press Spain's King Felipe kisses the hand of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II as she greets him during a Ceremonial Welcome on Horse Guards Parade in London, Wednesday, July 12, 2017. The King and Queen of Spain are on a three day State Visit to Britain. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, Pool)

LONDON (AP) — Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and her husband led an extravagant ceremony to welcome the king and queen of Spain, who began a state visit Wednesday amid tensions between the two nations over Britain's exit from the European Union.

Queen Elizabeth II and King Felipe VI of Spain arrive in a state carriage to Buckingham Palace, London on Wednesday, July 12, 2017. The King and Queen of Spain are on a three day State Visit to Britain. (Yui Mok/Pool via AP) © The Associated Press Queen Elizabeth II and King Felipe VI of Spain arrive in a state carriage to Buckingham Palace, London on Wednesday, July 12, 2017. The King and Queen of Spain are on a three day State Visit to Britain. (Yui Mok/Pool via AP)

The three-day visit by King Felipe VI and his wife, Queen Letizia, came amid a brewing dispute about what Brexit means for the future of Gibraltar, a tiny, rocky territory at the tip of the Iberian peninsula that Britain has controlled for three centuries against Spain's wishes.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth and Spanish King Felipe VI ride in a state carriage in central London on Wednesday July 12, 2017. The King and Queen of Spain are on a three day State Visit to Britain (Ben Stansall/Pool via AP) © The Associated Press Britain's Queen Elizabeth and Spanish King Felipe VI ride in a state carriage in central London on Wednesday July 12, 2017. The King and Queen of Spain are on a three day State Visit to Britain (Ben Stansall/Pool via AP)

The two countries are also trying to resolve the status of thousands of expatriates facing uncertainty over their rights once Britain leaves the EU.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II stands with Spain's Queen Letizia as their husbands King Felipe and Prince Philip inspect an honour guard during a Ceremonial Welcome on Horse Guards Parade in London, Wednesday, July 12, 2017. The King and Queen of Spain are on a three day State Visit to Britain. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, Pool) © The Associated Press Britain's Queen Elizabeth II stands with Spain's Queen Letizia as their husbands King Felipe and Prince Philip inspect an honour guard during a Ceremonial Welcome on Horse Guards Parade in London, Wednesday, July 12, 2017. The King and Queen of Spain are on a three day State Visit to Britain. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, Pool)

Yet there was no sign of discord as the Spanish royals arrived at Buckingham Palace, with Britain treating them to the full pomp and pageantry traditionally rolled out for visiting heads of state.

Spain's Queen Letizia and Britain's Prince Philip sit together in a carriage as they are taken to Buckingham Palace after a Ceremonial Welcome on Horse Guards Parade in London, Wednesday, July 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, Pool) © The Associated Press Spain's Queen Letizia and Britain's Prince Philip sit together in a carriage as they are taken to Buckingham Palace after a Ceremonial Welcome on Horse Guards Parade in London, Wednesday, July 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, Pool)

Prince Philip and Felipe first inspected troops at central London's Horse Guards Parade, a former royal jousting yard. Dozens of soldiers on horseback then escorted both monarchs and their spouses in a spectacular procession down The Mall, which was decorated with Union Jack and Spanish flags.

Britain's Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, right, greets Spain's Queen Letizia at a hotel in London, Tuesday July 12, 2017. The King and Queen of Spain are on a three day State Visit to Britain. (Hannah McKay/Pool via AP) © The Associated Press Britain's Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, right, greets Spain's Queen Letizia at a hotel in London, Tuesday July 12, 2017. The King and Queen of Spain are on a three day State Visit to Britain. (Hannah McKay/Pool via AP)

Felipe rode with the queen in the 1902 State Landau, a gilded carriage built for the coronation of King Edward VII, while Philip travelled with Letizia in a separate carriage.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II stands with Spain's King Felipe and his wife Queen Letizia, left, after arriving in a state carriage to Buckingham Palace, London on Wednesday, July 12, 2017. The King and Queen of Spain are on a three day State Visit to Britain. (Yui Mok/Pool via AP) © The Associated Press Britain's Queen Elizabeth II stands with Spain's King Felipe and his wife Queen Letizia, left, after arriving in a state carriage to Buckingham Palace, London on Wednesday, July 12, 2017. The King and Queen of Spain are on a three day State Visit to Britain. (Yui Mok/Pool via AP)

Later, addressing both houses of Parliament, Felipe said Spain was saddened by Britain's decision to leave the EU but respects it. He urged the two governments to guarantee citizens' rights after Britain's withdrawal — a key sticking point in Brexit talks.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, left, stands with Spain's Queen Letizia as their husbands King Felipe and Prince Philip inspect an honour guard during a Ceremonial Welcome on Horse Guards Parade in London, Wednesday, July 12, 2017. The King and Queen of Spain are on a three day State Visit to Britain. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, Pool) © The Associated Press Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, left, stands with Spain's Queen Letizia as their husbands King Felipe and Prince Philip inspect an honour guard during a Ceremonial Welcome on Horse Guards Parade in London, Wednesday, July 12, 2017. The King and Queen of Spain are on a three day State Visit to Britain. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, Pool)

"Those citizens have a legitimate expectation of decent and stable living conditions for themselves and their families," he said.

Britain's Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, right, and Prince Charles, left, greet Spain's King Felipe and Queen Letizia at a hotel in London, Tuesday July 12, 2017. The King and Queen of Spain are on a three day State Visit to Britain. (Hannah McKay/Pool via AP) © The Associated Press Britain's Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, right, and Prince Charles, left, greet Spain's King Felipe and Queen Letizia at a hotel in London, Tuesday July 12, 2017. The King and Queen of Spain are on a three day State Visit to Britain. (Hannah McKay/Pool via AP)

Emphasizing the strong historical ties between the two nations, the king also expressed confidence that they could overcome their differences over Gibraltar and "work towards arrangements that are acceptable for all involved."

Britain's Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, left,, and Prince Charles, 2nd right, greet Spain's King Felipe and Queen Letizia at a hotel in London, Tuesday July 12, 2017. The King and Queen of Spain are on a three day State Visit to Britain. (Hannah McKay/Pool via AP) © The Associated Press Britain's Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, left,, and Prince Charles, 2nd right, greet Spain's King Felipe and Queen Letizia at a hotel in London, Tuesday July 12, 2017. The King and Queen of Spain are on a three day State Visit to Britain. (Hannah McKay/Pool via AP)

While the rocky enclave has been a source of friction between Britain and Spain for centuries, and spats over alleged incursions by fishing and navy vessels in Gibraltar's waters aren't uncommon, the Brexit negotiations have pushed the territory's status to the forefront.

Britain's Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, left, and Prince Charles, 2nd right greet Spain's King Felipe and Queen Letizia at a hotel in London, Tuesday July 12, 2017. The King and Queen of Spain are on a three day State Visit to Britain. (Hannah McKay/Pool via AP) © The Associated Press Britain's Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, left, and Prince Charles, 2nd right greet Spain's King Felipe and Queen Letizia at a hotel in London, Tuesday July 12, 2017. The King and Queen of Spain are on a three day State Visit to Britain. (Hannah McKay/Pool via AP)

Britain is annoyed with Spain and the EU because Brussels has said that Spain should have veto rights on any agreements regarding Gibraltar during Brexit talks.

Spain's Queen Letizia and Britain's Prince Philip sit together in a carriage as they are taken to Buckingham Palace after a Ceremonial Welcome on Horse Guards Parade in London, Wednesday, July 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, Pool) © The Associated Press Spain's Queen Letizia and Britain's Prince Philip sit together in a carriage as they are taken to Buckingham Palace after a Ceremonial Welcome on Horse Guards Parade in London, Wednesday, July 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, Pool)

Felipe and Letizia are the first Spanish monarchs to visit Britain since Felipe's father toured the country in the 1980s. Both royal lines are descended from Queen Victoria. Felipe's great-grandmother, Queen Ena of Spain, was Victoria's youngest granddaughter. Victoria is Elizabeth's great-great-grandmother.

Spain's King Felipe and Britain's Queen Elizabeth II sit together in a carriage as they are taken to Buckingham Palace after a Ceremonial Welcome on Horse Guards Parade in London, Wednesday, July 12, 2017. The King and Queen of Spain are on a three day State Visit to Britain. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, Pool) © The Associated Press Spain's King Felipe and Britain's Queen Elizabeth II sit together in a carriage as they are taken to Buckingham Palace after a Ceremonial Welcome on Horse Guards Parade in London, Wednesday, July 12, 2017. The King and Queen of Spain are on a three day State Visit to Britain. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, Pool)

Felipe and his wife were dining Wednesday night at a state banquet in the ballroom of Buckingham Palace, where they are staying.

Spain's King Felipe and Britain's Queen Elizabeth II sit together in a carriage as they are taken to Buckingham Palace after a Ceremonial Welcome ceremony on Horse Guards Parade in London, Wednesday, July 12, 2017. The King and Queen of Spain are on a three day State Visit to Britain. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, Pool)

Spain's King Felipe and Britain's Queen Elizabeth II sit together in a carriage as they are taken to Buckingham Palace after a Ceremonial Welcome ceremony on Horse Guards Parade in London, Wednesday, July 12, 2017. The King and Queen of Spain are on a three day State Visit to Britain. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, Pool)
© The Associated Press
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