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Toasts of the President and Prince Juan Carlos of Spain

January 26, 1971

Your Royal Highnesses and all of our distinguished guests this evening:

As everybody who has been in this room before knows, a lot of history has occurred here. And through the 190 years that the White House has been here and through the years that this has been the State Dining Room, many honored guests have been received in this room. It is significant to note that tonight is the first time in the long history of this Nation and the history of this house and of this room that we honor not only a nation, a nation with whom we have so many strong bonds and such great affection, but for the first time we honor the representative of that nation, the Royal Family of Spain.

This is the first time, in other words, that while through the years we have had heads of government and heads of state from other nations, that one who will be the head of state of his nation, and a member of the Royal Family, is honored here from Spain.

And on such an occasion, therefore, all of us here who know Spain, who have had the opportunity to visit Spain--and that is virtually everybody in the room--have a feeling of the history of the moment and what it means about our past and what particularly it means about our future, the future of both of our countries.

We think, for example, of the visit that His Royal Highness and Princess Sophia will be making to other States after they leave Washington. They will go to three States, three great States, which have such a background of Spanish culture, Spanish language, Spanish music, some of which we heard tonight--to Florida, Texas, and California.

And we are reminded, as I pointed out this morning, of the fact that the United States and all the New World owe so much to Spain, the great courageous explorers who found the New World and who explored it, and that we owe far more than that in culture and language and the other areas with which we are familiar.

And all of us who have visited Spain, too, know that it is a magnificent country to visit because of the places of historical interest there, because, also, of the immense and unique warmth and hospitality which characterizes the Spanish people.

Mrs. Nixon and I, Secretary of State Rogers and his wife, and a few others here tonight had one of the great experiences of the time that we have been here in the reception that we had in Spain, and we were there a few months ago, an official reception. But I can assure you that if an individual goes to Spain, even as an ordinary citizen or a tourist, as millions do, he will receive the same warmth, be accorded the same dignity that the head of state of the United States would receive and be accorded.

And now, having spoken of the past, of what we owe to Spain historically, having spoken also of the fact that Spain is known not only in the United States but throughout Europe and throughout the world as a place that everybody enjoys going to, because of what it offers in the way of tourism, let me come to something which for the future is far more important, far more significant.

There is a tendency for some in the United States to think of our relationship with Spain as being primarily and almost exclusively because of our common interest in defense. That, of course, is important.

But far more important for the future is the fact that Spain, a country with a very proud and glorious past, is now moving into an era of great progress for the future.

Spain has the youngest Cabinet of any country in Europe. Spain has, as you see, a very young man and a young Princess who will be in the future, and have already been designated as, heads of state. And one who visits Spain realizes that there in that country is a vibrant, dynamic force for growth which has already meant that Spain has the fastest growth rate of any country in Europe, but that looking to the future, that this nation with its proud past is now entering an era of even a greater future.

And so we in the United States feel that we are very fortunate to be able to be partners in cooperating toward that future, not simply in our defense, which is very important, but also in terms of our economic cooperation, our cultural cooperation, and in every other area in which two great peoples with so many ties in the past have the opportunity to work together for a greater future.

And so at this moment, when for the first time, at long last, we honor as the guest of the United States of America one who will be the head of state, a very proud and great country, and a very great friend of the United States, I know that all of you will want to join me in the toast that I will propose. And that toast will be to his Royal Highness, to Princess Sophia, and to Generalissimo Franco, the President of Spain.

Note: The President spoke at 9: 51 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House. See also Item 28.

Prince Juan Carlos responded as follows:

Mr. President, Mrs. Nixon:

Both Princess Sophia and myself deeply appreciate your hospitality.

Our visit today to Washington as your guests symbolizes, in my opinion, the bonds that unite our two countries. These bonds are not new, Mr. President.

Men of the world from which I come, men of my homeland, lent their efforts and initiative to the creation of those bonds. Their moral tenacity, the sweat of their brows, and their intelligence contributed to the discovery and formation of America, and today they are part of your history:

Men like Junipero Serra, founder of California, your home State, Mr. President, whose statue rises above the capitol dome; a woman such as Queen Isabella, my ancestress, who with the ships of Columbus made possible the discovery of this continent; or King Charles III, whose moral and material efforts aided this country to achieve its national independence.

But we must not confine ourselves to the glorious deeds of the past. I feel a duty of our time and also of my own generation to look toward the future and hope that the significance of this visit will remain alive long after our departure.

Spain admires, above all, your country's moral virtues. Yours is the land of the liberty and efficiency that today has been called upon to play a decisive role in the free world.

You can be sure, Mr. President, that my country with its deeply rooted past understands and appreciates all the valuable efforts of your great Nation and fully shares your ideals of justice, because only justice will bring peace to nations and to man's conscience.

For these reasons, you have in Spain a country who has always been at the crossroads of civilization and cultures, a good friend and sincere ally.

My country believes in the qualities of nobility and generosity. We like friendship and we admire, above all other things, justice and loyalty.

Spain is capable of making great sacrifices for an ideal, to aid and to defend those countries who offer her their friendship, and we also hope that those whom we call our friends will return this gesture accordingly.

You may be certain that Spain will always repay loyalty with loyalty, the understanding of our problems with the understanding of yours. Therefore, I do not hesitate in predicting a lasting and fruitful understanding between our two countries.

Spain is today again a young country, with hard-working and hopeful people who have their eyes set on the future.

Through many years of effort under the leadership of Generalissimo Franco we achieved our reconstruction and development. We are adapting the structure of our society to better assure our prosperity.

One of our main goals is to raise the standard of living of all the Spanish people. We know that we are not alone in pursuing this goal, because you, Mr. President, also attach great importance to the American welfare program in your State of the Union Address.

Now, as we approach the end of the 20th century, we are prepared to follow the path of liberty, peace, and justice and to offer our contribution toward harmony among nations.

And with this desire and hope in mind, I would like to raise my glass and toast the friendship of our two nations, the prosperity of the United States, and the personal well-being of you, Mr. President, and you, Mrs. Nixon.

Richard Nixon, Toasts of the President and Prince Juan Carlos of Spain Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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