For the first time since Sunday, April 1, 2001, Historic City News will report the arrival of the King and Queen of Spain; only the second visit by the reigning Spanish royals in our entire 450-year history.
When you consider we were under Spanish rule from the date of our founding in 1565 to 1763, and then again from 1784 to 1821, before the U.S. flag will have flown over St. Augustine longer than the Spanish one did, the students of history who attended this year’s 450th commemoration will have to wait another forty years — until 2055.
“I feel like I’m part of history,” Historic City News editor Michael Gold explained to visitors having breakfast at Athena Restaurant on Cathedral Place. “The King and Queen have only been here twice in 450-years, and I get to report the event both times.”
Their Majesties, King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain, will arrive in St. Augustine this Friday, September 18, to participate in the opening dinner of the United States-Spain Council International Summit.
The United States-Spain Council, alternates meetings between Spain and the United States. It is an organization of corporate leaders, top government officials and leaders in education and culture, promoting stronger ties between the two countries.
King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofía visited the city for approximately two hours with a scheduled stop at Casa del Hildalgo, the only property owned by their county at the time, and a 10-minute speech delivered from the King’s Balcony on the east side of Government House, overlooking the Plaza de la Constitution.
As far as we know at this time, King Felipe VI and Queen Letizi’s plans are to visit for about the same time with an 11:00 a.m. stop at Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, and a speech from the King’s Balcony at approximately 12:00 noon. These are the only two public appearances for the royals.
Public Affairs director Paul Williamson suggests that in order to see the arrival at the Castillo, Historic City News readers should arrive by 10:30 a.m., and those wishing to hear the address should be in the Plaza de la Constitución by 11:45 a.m.
Much of the on-street parking in the downtown area will be restricted on Friday. Williamson suggests that those wishing to attend either activity should park at the Historic Downtown Parking Facility located at the St. Augustine Visitor Information Center at 10 West Castillo Drive.
The city often escapes public notice of our rightful place on the timeline of our country’s history. They wrongly associate America’s European roots with the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock and the English at Jamestown. But, being 450-years-old, means being really, really old; decades older than either of those. St Augustine was founded in 1565 — just one year following the death of Michelangelo and one year after the birth of William Shakespeare.
© 2015 Raphael Cosme for Historic City News