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 overlaps 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 Dom Manuel ll. His reign came to an end with the October Revolution in 1910. 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 8th September.
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 Setubal cheered and chanted ‘Viva a Rainha’ before the royal couple went on a four-day tour of Lisbon, Porto and Evora 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. The number of Portuguese nationals residing in the United Kingdom was in 2020 estimated at about 270 thousand.
(*) Sealing the Treaty of Windsor in 1386.
Len Port is a journalist and author. Born in Ireland, his first written pieces were published while he was working in the Natural History Museum, London. Since then he has worked as a news reporter, mainly in Hong Kong, Northern Ireland, South Africa and Portugal.
In addition to reporting hard news for some of the world’s leading news organizations, he has produced countless feature articles on all sorts of subjects for a range of publications. Now living in southern Portugal, his books include travel guides and children’s stories. His ebooks – People in a Place Apart and The Fátima Phenomenon – Divine Grace, Delusion or Pious Fraud? are available from Amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. His blog posts can be viewed at algarvenewswatch.blogspot.com