Speech by King Willem-Alexander at the state banquet during the state visit of King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain, Royal Palace in Amsterdam

Your Majesties,

Welcome! The Queen and I are delighted to have you as our guests. 

We’ve known each other for such a long time. We have close personal ties and see each other regularly. The only thing that was missing was a state visit. Today and tomorrow, we will be setting that right.

Spain has a special place in our hearts. First because it was in your country that our life together began. 
We were at the Feria de Abril in Seville 25 years ago. The sparks began to fly... 
And the rest is history...

A visit to Spain always feels like a warm abrazo. Not just for us, but also for our eldest daughter, the Princess of Orange.

Last year, circumstances required her to live in Madrid for a while. From there, she was able to continue her studies at the University of Amsterdam. 
This was made possible by the kind efforts of many of your compatriots and yourselves. A touching demonstration of friendship at a difficult time. I’d like to express my heartfelt thanks to you and everyone else who helped arrange this.

Spain and the Netherlands are branches of the same European tree. Our countries’ stories have been interwoven for centuries. The first verse of our 450-year-old national anthem is proof of that. The King of Spain plays a prominent role, but I won’t go into the historical context... Let’s just say: all’s well that ends well!
Our countries have a long history of cultural exchange. And we often revere the same masters. Take ‘El Bosco’ in Museo del Prado. ‘A compatriot!’, some Spaniards believe. Yet Hieronymus Bosch was Dutch as could be! 
But of course, we’re very happy to share him with you.

Another master we both admire is Johan Cruijff. The man who taught the Spanish how to play Total Football... 
Perhaps too well, I might add. 

Spanish architects built our Rijksmuseum.
And Dutch architects have been successful in Spain.
Your country is a favourite destination of Dutch holidaymakers.
And in the Netherlands, you hear Spanish being spoken more and more often.

It’s great that we have these close connections. They reflect the strong relationship between our countries, as partners in Europe and in the wider world. 

Fortunately the era of national stereotypes is well behind us. A deep sense of solidarity has taken its place. We are allies, driven by the same ideals, values and convictions. 

We stand for freedom, democracy and human rights, and we’re prepared to defend them. We both believe in the European Union as a beacon of peaceful cooperation. Not only because we carry with us bitter experiences from the past. But also because we need a strong and resilient Union for the security, prosperity and wellbeing of all European citizens in the future.

As European partners, our countries have come to understand each other better. A special relationship has evolved, a Spanish-Dutch conexión especial. Together we have shown that the South and the North complement each other perfectly.

Like me, Your Majesty, you are probably reminded of our meeting in Spain last June. We spoke at length about the opportunities that green hydrogen can offer in the transition to a European system of sustainable energy. Together our countries are developing a corredor verde
One day ‘el sol español’ will also warm the chilly north, and help to make our industry greener!

I know how hard you’re working personally to foster sustainability breakthroughs. Not just in the area of energy, but across the board: climate action, water, agriculture and circular production. Our researchers and entrepreneurs are working together to make these breakthroughs possible. Spain and the Netherlands often take the lead in this regard. 
As the fourth and fifth largest economies in the European Union, together we carry a lot of weight. So, let’s maximise our leverage!

The same goes for our security. I’m proud of the cooperation that has developed between our police forces and justice systems. This is making a clear difference in the fight against organised crime.

We realise all too well that the challenges we face – including those within our own borders – are immense. 

In societies like ours, with so many different people, groups and interests, it’s not always easy to maintain trust in each other and stand by each other. But that is exactly what we need: the courage to listen to one another and continue seeking common ground. 

Strength lies not in isolation, but in the ability to build bridges. Just as Spain and the Netherlands have shown. 

We cherish our friendship with you and with the Spanish people. Let me say, from the bottom of my heart: Gracias
¡Viva España!

Please raise your glasses with me.

Your Majesties, to your health.
And to our friendship.