Queen Letizia of Spain and King Felipe attend a welcome ceremony in Cuba    

Queen Letizia and King Felipe of Spain have been officially welcomed to Cuba with a a ceremony at the Revolution Palace, after arriving in the former colony last night night. 

Their highly significant visit to the Communist-ruled Caribbean island is the first time that Spanish royals have made a state visit in 500 years . 

Spain is Cuba’s third largest economic partner – after China and Venezuela – with $1.39 billion in 2018, and the former colony was one of the last to gain independence from Madrid in 1898. 

The four-day tour aims to highlight and strengthen the ties between Spain and Cuba, with the royals meeting key cultural and entrepreneurial figures, and marking the 500th anniversary of Havana, founded on November 16th, 1519.

Letizia and her husband follow in the footsteps of Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, who made a historic state visit to Cuba in March 2019, the first members of the British royal family to do so.  

Queen Letizia (pictured right) stunned in a polka dot dress today, as she and King Felipe were received by President of the Republic of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel and his wife Lis Cuesta (pictured left) at the Revolution Palace in Havana

Queen Letizia (pictured right) stunned in a polka dot dress today, as she and King Felipe were received by President of the Republic of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel and his wife Lis Cuesta (pictured left) at the Revolution Palace in Havana

King Felipe (pictured centre) lay a wreath at Revolution Square in Havana, before proceeding to the welcome ceremony

King Felipe (pictured centre) lay a wreath at Revolution Square in Havana, before proceeding to the welcome ceremony 

Former journalist Letizia oozed elegance as she joined her husband King Felipe at the Revolution Palace, where they were received by President of the Republic of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel and his wife Lis Cuesta as part of a welcome ceremony.

Mother-of-two, Letizia, beamed in a stylish polka dot dress paired perfectly with heeled black mules and a co-ordinating clutch bag, for a sleek appearance.

The royals began their time in Cuba by placing a floral offering ceremony at the José Martí Mausoleum. The monument pays tribute to Cuban national hero José Martí who had a major impact on Latin literature.

King Felipe placed a crown featuring the flag of Spain, as National Anthems for both countries were played during the ceremony. 

He looked polished in business attire as they moved to the Palace of the Revolution, which is the headquarters of the State Council of Cuba.

The state visit is the Spanish royals’ tenth, coming just weeks after they attended engagements in South Korea. Queen Letizia and King Felipe are set to have a busy week ahead as they meet with key figures. 

Queen Letizia and First Lady Lis Cuesta (pictured left alongside Miguel Diaz-Canel and King Felipe), both opted for subtle make-up at the formal event which took place among celebrations for the 500th anniversary of Havana

Queen Letizia and First Lady Lis Cuesta (pictured left alongside Miguel Diaz-Canel and King Felipe), both opted for subtle make-up at the formal event which took place among celebrations for the 500th anniversary of Havana

Queen Letizia (pictured centre) appeared in good spirits, as she joined conversations with President Miguel Diaz-Canel and his wife

Queen Letizia (pictured centre) appeared in good spirits, as she joined conversations with President Miguel Diaz-Canel and his wife

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The royals later enjoyed a walk around La Havana as they greeted locals after the ceremony during their visit to the Cuban city

The royals later enjoyed a walk around La Havana as they greeted locals after the ceremony during their visit to the Cuban city

Letizia opted for a chic ensemble as she strolled around in lace-up wedges

Letizia opted for a chic ensemble as she strolled around in lace-up wedges

The royals later enjoyed a walk around La Havana as they greeted locals after the ceremony during their visit to the Cuban city.

Letizia opted for a chic ensemble as she strolled around in a white A-line dress with floral detail which she teamed with lace-up wedges. 

King Felipe kept things casual in a blue linen shirt and dark trousers while he shielded his eyes with sunglasses. 

The visit got underway in earnest today after the couple arrived in the country last night. 

Letizia opted for white A-line dress with floral detail as she greeted locals on her walk

Letizia opted for white A-line dress with floral detail as she greeted locals on her walk 

King Felipe kept things casual in a blue linen shirt and dark trousers as he joined his wife

King Felipe kept things casual in a blue linen shirt and dark trousers as he joined his wife

The royals shielded their eyes from the sun with shades as they waved to locals on their visit

The royals shielded their eyes from the sun with shades as they waved to locals on their visit

Letizia wore her brunettes tresses sleek and straight for the outing

Letizia wore her brunettes tresses sleek and straight for the outing 

Emerging fresh-faced after a lengthy flight from Madrid to Havana, Queen Letizia showcased her effortless travel style as she stepped off the plane.

The monarch teamed a striped shirt dress with brown court heels, completing the look with a statement pink bag as she stepped of a Spanish Air Force plane at Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport.

The Spanish royals were met by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez upon landing.  

Queen Letizia appeared in good spirits, joining King Felipe in greeting those who turned out for their arrival.

King Felipe VI of Spain and Queen Letizia of Spain attend Gala de Danza at Alicia Alonso Gran Theater on November 12, 2019 in La Havana, Cuba

King Felipe VI of Spain and Queen Letizia of Spain attend Gala de Danza at Alicia Alonso Gran Theater on November 12, 2019 in La Havana, Cuba

Queen Letizia of Spain attends Espana y Cuba: Contigo en la Distancia exhibition at Alicia Alonso Gran Theater on November 12

Queen Letizia of Spain attends Espana y Cuba: Contigo en la Distancia exhibition at Alicia Alonso Gran Theater on November 12

She styled her glossy brunette hair into relaxed waves with a side-parting, while opting for minimal make-up to emphasize her natural features.

Since arriving on the island, King Felipe and Queen Letizia have been received by the Spanish ambassador to Cuba, Juan Fernández Trigo, the ambassador of Cuba in Spain, Gustavo Machín and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, Bruno Rodríguez. 

However, the wider political context is anything but festive as relations with the United States have soured considerably since President Donald Trump replaced Barack Obama almost three years ago.

Washington accuses Cuba of oppressing its people and providing military support to Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro, thus helping thwart a US bid to force out the socialist leader in favor of parliament speaker Juan Guaido.

Letizia stands next to Lis Cuesta Peraza, wife of Cuba's President Miguel Diaz-Canel, in Old Havana

Letizia stands next to Lis Cuesta Peraza, wife of Cuba’s President Miguel Diaz-Canel, in Old Havana 

The couple appeared in high spirits as they enjoyed their tour through the Cuban city

The couple appeared in high spirits as they enjoyed their tour through the Cuban city 

Last month Washington announced the suspension of all flights from the US to Cuba except to Havana as the Trump administration continues to roll back the improved ties instigated by Obama.

Cuba has increasingly turned towards traditional allies Russia and Venezuela for support, but also the European Union.

‘Faced with the harassment of Cuba by the Trump administration, the royal couple’s journey to the island can be interpreted as a support to economic, political, cultural relations and cooperation between Cuba and Spain,’ said Raynier Pellon, an expert at the center for international political research in Havana. 

Letizia walks alongside Lis Cuesta, wife of Cuba's President Miguel Diaz-Canel, in Old Havana

Letizia walks alongside Lis Cuesta, wife of Cuba’s President Miguel Diaz-Canel, in Old Havana

The pair pose for photographs as they take a walk through Old Havana, Cuba, this afternoon

The pair pose for photographs as they take a walk through Old Havana, Cuba, this afternoon

Spain's Queen Letizia, center, and Lis Cuesta Peraza, wife of Cuba's President Miguel Diaz-Canel, center left, pose for a photo with students from the restoration school in Old Havana

Spain’s Queen Letizia, center, and Lis Cuesta Peraza, wife of Cuba’s President Miguel Diaz-Canel, center left, pose for a photo with students from the restoration school in Old Havana

For Cuban researcher Arturo Lopez-Levy from the Holy Names University in the US, it’s ‘a clear message to the White House.’

Cuba’s third largest economic partner – after China and Venezuela – with $1.39 billion in 2018, Spain has not shied away from criticizing Trump’s policies.

Foreign minister Josep Borrell, who is accompanying the royal couple, blasted the Trump administration in May for an ‘abuse of power’ after Washington gave the green light a month earlier for Cuban exiles to use US courts to sue private companies and the Cuban government over properties nationalized after the 1959 revolution.

King Felipe will meet Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel during his visit and join Havana’s official historian Eusebio Leal for a tour of its fabled cobblestone streets.

Queen Letizia, 47, arrived alongside King Felipe, 51, (pictured) in Havana, Cuba, for a four-day visit during celebrations for the 500th anniversary of Havana

Queen Letizia, 47, arrived alongside King Felipe, 51, (pictured) in Havana, Cuba, for a four-day visit during celebrations for the 500th anniversary of Havana

The mother-of-two (pictured centre) beamed in a stripe shirt dress, as they were welcomed by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez (pictured right)

The mother-of-two (pictured centre) beamed in a stripe shirt dress, as they were welcomed by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez (pictured right)

The royals' (pictured) visit comes at a time of tension between the US and Cuba, in addition to chaotic street-protests aimed at King Felipe throughout Spain

The royals’ (pictured) visit comes at a time of tension between the US and Cuba, in addition to chaotic street-protests aimed at King Felipe throughout Spain

King Felipe (pictured centre) is set to meet Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel and other cultural figures during the four-day engagement

King Felipe (pictured centre) is set to meet Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel and other cultural figures during the four-day engagement

The king will bring a self-portrait by Francisco Goya, on loan for a month by Madrid’s Prado Museum, to be displayed in Havana’s Museum of Fine Arts.

However, he and Letizia will leave the island before the official celebrations begin on Friday and Saturday, when several other Latin American leaders will attend.

‘The clear reason,’ according to Carlos Malamud, a researcher from the Elcano institute in Madrid, ‘is the government’s desire to avoid awkward contact with Daniel Ortega and Nicolas Maduro.’

Queen Letizia who styled her silky brunette hair in loose waves, appeared in good spirits as she joined King Felipe in greeting those at the airport

Queen Letizia who styled her silky brunette hair in loose waves, appeared in good spirits as she joined King Felipe in greeting those at the airport 

A researcher from the Elcano institute in Madrid believes that Letizia and Felipe (pictured) are not staying for Cuba's actual anniversary to avoid 'awkward contact with Daniel Ortega and Nicolas Maduro'

A researcher from the Elcano institute in Madrid believes that Letizia and Felipe (pictured) are not staying for Cuba’s actual anniversary to avoid ‘awkward contact with Daniel Ortega and Nicolas Maduro’

The left-wing presidents of Nicaragua and Venezuela who have been widely criticized by the European Union for oppressing their own people, have not yet confirmed their attendance.

The Spanish royals visit comes at a challenging time amid a backdrop of anti-royal street protests aimed at King Felipe Vi. 

King Felipe’s father King Juan Carlos previously traveled to Cuba to attend an Ibero-American summit in 2016 and the funeral of Fidel Castro. 

Queen Letizia and King Felipe’s trip comes just months after Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall became the first members of the British royal family to set foot in communist Cuba.

King Felipe's father traveled to Cuba twice, attending an Ibero-American summit and for the funeral of Fidel Castro

King Felipe’s father traveled to Cuba twice, attending an Ibero-American summit and for the funeral of Fidel Castro

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