Louisiana participated in a royal welcome this past weekend when King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain visited Gallier Hall in New Orleans on a trip the royalty took in honor of the city’s tricentennial this year.
And it was very much in place since Spanish royalty ruled New Orleans and Louisiana from 1763 to 1802 after France took its reign here and until the United States of America took its place.
It was the first official visit to the city and state by a monarch in more than half a century.
The royal couple say, “It is our hope that through this visit, these bonds will become even stronger because we have solid reasons for them to grow stronger in the future.”
The couple left Louisiana Saturday for San Antonio, which is another former Spanish colonial city celebrating a tricentennial. Felipe, who is now 50, has held Spain’s mostly symbolic throne for four years.
Though Louisiana’s French roots are often emphasized, New Orleans’ melting pot culture was heavily influenced by the Spanish from its street names to its architecture, officials pointed out in the New Orleans Advocate this past weekend.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards told the royal couple that “Spain’s influence in the state has persevered to this day. And not just in New Orleans, by the way. I grew up in the Florida Parishes, an area of Louisiana that was once part of Florida during the Spanish control.”
Mayor LaToya Cantrell said New Orleans was “kissed” by the Spanish as she presented the keys to the city to the royal couple during their visit.
King Felipe replied, “There is no shortage of ancient and splendid cities in my country, which I am sure would welcome this project of affinity and friendship between Spain and the United States.”