Her Majesty Queen Sofia of Spain visited Oxford last Tuesday as part of the celebrations commemorating the 700th anniversary of Exeter College.
Queen Sofia is an honorary fellow of Exeter College and the patron of the Queen Sofía Junior Fellowship, established to fund scholarship into contemporary Spanish literature and culture at the college. Exeter is also home to the King Alfonso XIII Professorship of Spanish Literature, established in 1927.
The Queen attended a colloquium on Spanish literature and its study in the University of Oxford, which was first cemented with the establishment of the School of Modern Languages in Oxford in 1905. At the colloquium, which was held at the Taylorian Institution, speeches were delivered by the current holder of the King Alfonso XIII Professorship, Professor Edwin Williamson, holder of the current Queen Sofia Junior Fellowship, Dr Daniela Olmor, and three students; Artem Serebrennikov, a DPhil student, as well as undergraduates Matt Stokes and Daisy Thompson. Each spoke about their personal experiences in the study of Spanish as well as their individual research interests in the field.
In a speech given during a formal lunch afterward at Exeter’s hall, Queen Sofia gave a brief speech in which he said, “I am truly happy to join you for the celebrations of the 700th anniversary of Exeter College, an august institution which throughout its history has contributed to the development of society through its remarkable educational vocation and its excellent academic achievement.
“Spain shares in the joy of this commemoration, not only because the Chair of Spanish Studies which, since 1927, has borne the name of King Alfonso XIII, but also because your university is one of the leading centres for teaching and studying Spanish, one of the world’s great languages, together with English.”
Her Majesty was then taken on a tour of the college gardens by college rector Frances Cairncross, during which Queen Sofia was introduced to Spanish students from the college.
Queen Sofia, who was born into the Greek Royal family in 1938, married the current King of Spain, Juan Carlos in 1962. She studied at Athens University before spending time at Fitzwilliam College in Cambridge.