The Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II
Photo: EPA/TIM IRELAND

A republic mourns a monarch

For a fully independent republic like Portugal to officially declare a three-day period of national mourning for a foreign monarch is remarkable, but such is the respect for the late Queen Elizabeth ll and this country’s centuries of close ties with Britain.

The mourning here overlapped the funeral in London on Monday attended by Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa among many other heads of state.

Under the Treaty of Windsor as long ago as 1386, Portugal and Britain forged a bond of friendship known as the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance. This was centuries before the two maritime nations located on the western edge of the European continent created, without any conflict between them, separate empires across the world. The alliance is still in force today.

Portugal’s last monarch was D. Manuel ll. His reign came to an end with the October Revolution in 1910. D. Manuel lived the last two decades of his life in exile in Twickenham, England.

In 1932, the year Manuel died, the then British monarch, King George V, addressed his people for the first time on the radio. He wished them a happy Christmas in a speech composed by the legendary writer Rudyard Kipling.

George V’s granddaughter Elizabeth was just six years old at the time. Her coronation in 1952 was broadcast live on television channels and this is said to have been the major event that established television as a mainstream medium in Britain. She has totally dominated it day and night since her passing on Thursday, September 8.

Queen Elizabeth and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, made two state visits to Portugal. The first was in 1957 during the ‘Estado Novo’ dictatorship of António Oliveira Salazar. The second was in 1985 when crowds in the port city of Setúbal cheered and chanted Viva a Rainha’ before the royal couple went on a four-day tour of Lisbon, Porto and Évora in the Alentejo.

Prince Charles visited Portugal with his wife Princess Diana in 1987. They attended a memorial service marking the 600th anniversary of the marriage of Portugal’s King Dom João l to Philippa of Lancaster, daughter of England’s John of Gaunt. It coincided with the 1387 Treaty of Windsor alliance. Prince Charles made another visit, this time in 2011 with his present wife, Camilla, now the new king’s consort.

With the easing of the Covid pandemic, the number of British holidaymakers in Portugal has been surging again. Currently, there are more than 46,000 British citizens registered as living in Portugal, the second largest number of expatriates after those from the former Portuguese colony of Brazil.

By LEN PORT

Len Port is a journalist and author based in the Algarve. Follow Len’s reflections on current affairs in Portugal on his blog: algarvenewswatch.blogspot.pt