King Charles III and The President of the Portuguese Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, celebrate the 650th anniversary of the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance
- The Thanksgiving Service at the Queen’s Chapel in London was the culmination of Portugal-UK 650, the commemoration of the oldest diplomatic alliance in the world still in force.
- The Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Alliance signed in London in 1373, was on display from The National Archives.
Thursday, 15 June 2023 – His Majesty King Charles III and The President of the Portuguese Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, gathered today to commemorate the 650th anniversary of the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance, the world’s oldest diplomatic alliance still in force and an unprecedented milestone in the history of diplomacy. The Thanksgiving Service took place at The Queen’s Chapel1 in St. James’ Palace, in London.
Upon arrival, The King and The President were welcomed by members of the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom and Portugal, by the Sub-Dean of the Chapel, the Reverend Canon Paul Wright LVO, who led the ceremony, and by the president of the commemorations Portugal-UK 6502, Dr Maria João Rodrigues de Araújo.
The religious ceremony was attended by individuals3 from both countries and included readings and a psalm in both English and Portuguese as well as music from Portuguese and English composers4, performed by the Choir of His Majesty’s Chapel Royal and the Choir of The Queen’s College Oxford5. This special service was the culmination of the Portugal-UK 650 celebrations that began in The Queen’s Chapel in 2019, a chapel that once belonged to Queen Catherine of Braganza, Queen of the United Kingdom upon her marriage to King Charles II and who served as Queen Regent of Portugal twice. Above the altar and in the Gallery, her coat of arms, a combination of Portugal and the United Kingdom’s arms, proudly adorns the chapel.
During her address to the audience, Maria João Rodrigues de Araújo6, the driving force behind Portugal-UK 650 celebrations, said: “Over the past four years, our aim has been to celebrate our shared history, writing new chapters of friendship and cooperation. We have undertaken scholarly research on the Alliance and promoted the founding values enshrined in Article 1 of the Treaty of 1373: peace, friendship, truth, faithfulness, constancy, sincerity, kindness, and solidarity. Collaborating with 210 institutions, we have organised over 300 activities and projects in both countries and reached millions of people. We hope these long-term legacy projects and collaborations will help to cement the bonds of friendship between the citizens of both our nations, ensuring that the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance, the oldest alliance still in existence, continues to thrive”.
Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Alliance
The Anglo-Portuguese Alliance was formalized in London on the 16th of June 1373 by the Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Alliance signed between King Edward III of England and King Fernando I and Queen Leonor of Portugal, following the Treaty of Tagilde, signed a year earlier by King Ferdinand I of Portugal and the delegates of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and son of King Edward III of England. The alliance was renewed by the Treaty of Windsor of 1386, and subsequent treaties throughout the centuries.
An original copy of the Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Alliance, signed 1373, which commits the nations to “perpetual peace, friendship and alliance,” was on display at the chapel courtesy of The National Archives.
To conclude the ceremony, the president of Portugal-UK 650 presented the two heads of state with a commemorative plate7 crafted in partnership with the renowned Portuguese porcelain manufacturer, Vista Alegre. Inspired by the coat of arms displayed in The Queen’s Chapel, the design of the plate pays homage to the 650th anniversary of the enduring Anglo-Portuguese Alliance.
Notes to editors
1The Queen’s Chapel
The Queen’s Chapel, which is celebrating 400 years in 2023, was the chapel of Queen Catherine of Braganza, who became Queen of the United Kingdom upon her marriage to King Charles II and who served as Queen Regent of Portugal twice. Above the altar and in the Gallery is the coat of arms of Queen Catherine of Braganza, combining the arms of the United Kingdom and Portugal. She worshipped in The Queen’s Chapel with Portuguese priests, friars, and musicians. Documents describe the beautiful music played in her chapel and her special devotion to Our Lady. In this, she was influenced by her father King John IV, an accomplished musician and composer, who proclaimed Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception as the Queen and the Patroness of Portugal in 1642, laying his crown upon the feet of the statue of Our Lady of Conception of Vila Viçosa. Coincidentally, this statue was brought from England by the first Duke of Braganza with the help of Queen Philippa of Lancaster, granddaughter of King Edward III of England, who became Queen of Portugal upon her marriage to King John I. Honouring these historical connections, during today’s service, the Choir of The Chapel Royal performed “O Beata Maria” by Vicente Lusitano, a hymn dedicated to Dinis of Lancaster, a descendant of Queen Philippa of Lancaster, and the Choir of The Queen’s College Oxford performed “Salve Regina” by Diogo Dias Melgás, a favourite contemporary composer of Queen Catherine of Braganza.
2About Portugal-UK 650
‘Portugal-UK 650’ is the organisation in charge of the commemoration of the 650th anniversary of the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance, the oldest diplomatic alliance in the world still in force. The Alliance was formally established by the Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Alliance, sealed in London on the 16th of June 1373, by King Edward III of England and King Fernando of Portugal. This alliance wasrenewed in the Treaty of Windsor of 1386 and in several other treaties throughout the centuries.
Portugal-UK 650 was launched in the Queen’s Chapel at St. James’ Palace (London) in 2019. Since then, Portugal-UK 650, hasorganised more than 300 activities and projects in both countries, in collaboration with 210 institutions, reaching millions of people and creating a legacy for future generations.
The diverse programme has included more than 1,500 artists, 240 speakers and researchers, 57 performances and arts projects with 14 world premieres. Additionally, it has created 16 bilingual education resources and 10 editions of an open access book with 30 new academic articles, resulting from the four-day interdisciplinary conference “650th anniversary of the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance: taking stock of the past and envisioning its future”.
Throughout the commemorations, Portugal-UK 650 aimed to contribute to a better world by promoting, especially among the younger generations, the foundational values of the Treaty of Alliance: the values of peace, friendship, truth, faithfulness, constancy, sincerity, kindness, and solidarity. Article 1 of the Treaty between Portugal and England of 1373 states: “From henceforth there shall be between us true, faithful, constant and perpetual peace and friendship, union and alliance and league of sincere affection”. By establishing long-term legacy projects and collaborations that will continue beyond these celebrations, Portugal-UK 650 has laid foundations for the bonds and friendship between the citizens of both nations to continue flourishing, thus ensuring the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance will carry on thriving from generation to generation.
Some of the institutions that have been actively involved in the celebrations include the University of Oxford, the British Council, the English National Ballet, the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtue of the University of Birmingham, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, The National Archives, The University of Minho, the IEP-UCP; Câmara Municipal de Braga, Câmara Municipal de Vizela and the Museu da Misericordia do Porto, among others.
The ceremony will also be attended by Nuno Brito, Ambassador to the UK, Christopher Sainty, British Ambassador to Portugal, and Rosa Batoréu, Ambassador to UNESCO. Also present will be several members from the UK Foreign Office and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Portugal, such as João Gomes Cravinho, Foreign Affairs Minister of Portugal, and James Cleverly, UK Foreign Secretary. Joining them will be José Nunes da Fonseca, Chief of the Defence Staff of Portugal, and H.R.H. Dukes of Braganza and Wellington.
Furthermore, esteemed partners of Portugal-UK 650, including Taylor’s Port, Delta, University of Oxford, English National Ballet, and The National Archives, will also participate in the event.
William Byrd, who died four hundred years ago in 1623, was the most eminent composer belonging to the family of Elizabeth I and was organist at Chapel Royal. His celebratory hymn Sing joyfully may have been written in honour of James I, given the prominence Byrd gives to the name “Jacob” in the final section of the piece.
Diogo Dias Melgás: like many of the finest Portuguese composers of the 16th and 17th centuries, Diogo Dias Melgás received his musical training at the Sé de Évora and continued to serve the cathedral – as choirmaster and then chapel master – for the rest of his career. His composition of the Marian antiphon Salve regina is one of the most expressive Portuguese works of the time.
Lusitano: Born in Olivença, c. 1520, Lusitano published in Rome in 1551 his Liber Primus Epigramatum, from which the motet “O Beata Maria” was taken. The author of the collection was his patron Dinis de Lencastre, whose family name is a Portuguese translation of the name of his ancestor, Phillipa of Lancaster, the daughter of John of Gaunt who became Queen of Portugal in 1387. A renowned composer, teacher, and theorist, Lusitano converted to Protestantism and travelled to Germany around 1561, from which date records are silent. Described as a “homen Pardo” by his first biographer, Lusitano is the first composer racialised as black known to have printed his works in Europe.
5Choirs performing at the Service of Thanksgiving
The Choir of His Majesty’s Chapel Royal was fully established in the reign of Henry V (1413-1422), and its current functions are essentially the same as they have been for centuries: to sing regular services in the monarch’s house chapel, and to assist the monarch at services and other events as ordered, most recently at the Coronation of Their Majesties King Charles III and Queen Camilla. Almost all the leading composers of English music from the Tudor to the Georgian period were members of the Chapel Royal, including Tallis, Byrd, Gibbons, Tomkins, Purcell, and Handel. One of the choristers, whose family is from Portugal, will be greeting The King and the President.
The Choir of The Queen’s College Oxford is one of the most active university choirs in the UK. Its extensive concert schedule involves performances throughout the UK and abroad, and it has performed in Portugal regularly over many years, including (in 2022) as a significant contributor to the events of the 650th anniversary celebrations of Portugal-UK.
The choir’s wide repertoire includes a rich variety of Renaissance and Baroque music and contemporary works. The group broadcasts regularly for BBC Radio and, during the academic year, provides the music for services in Queen’s College chapel. Queen’s Choir recordings range from the music of Tudor composer John Taverner, through works by Handel and Bononcini (Handel’s London rival), to new commissions.
6Maria João Rodrigues de Araujo
The driving force behind Portugal-UK 650 has been Maria João Rodrigues de Araújo, who has been leading the initiative since its inception. She has shown unwavering dedication to the success of the celebrations, steering them through the challenges posed by the pandemic and eight changes of government in both countries. She is supported by a Coordination Committee consisting of bilateral government officials and two Mayors, as well as an Executive Team comprising members of civil society from both nations.
Maria João Rodrigues de Araujo holds the position of Fellow in Music at the University of Oxford. She is a Doctor of Philosophy in Music from the University of Oxford, Christ Church College. She also holds a Bachelor of Music (BMus Hons) from the University of London (King’s College London and Royal Academy of Music) and a ‘Licenciatura’ Degree in Music Sciences from the University Nova of Lisbon, Portugal. Her previous roles include serving as The Royal Opera House Senior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford, a board member of RESEO – the European Network for Music, Opera, and Dance Education in Brussels, and a Visiting Professor at various European and American universities. She also held the position of Director of Education and Research at Casa da Música in Oporto, where she oversaw research, education, publications, exhibitions, music technologies, and archives, managing approximately 2000 events annually. Furthermore, Maria João Rodrigues de Araujo engages in extensive humanitarian work as the International President of ANDI-New Dialogue Organization and holds the titles of Dame of the Order of Malta (The Sovereign and Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes, and of Malta) and Dame of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.
7Commemorative plate crafted in partnership with Vista Alegre: ‘Alliance 650’
The commemorative plate draws inspiration from the coat of arms that can be found at the Queen’s Chapel at St James’s Palace in London. The coat of arms depicted on this plate elegantly combines the heraldic symbols of both Portugal and the United Kingdom. It showcases a captivating arrangement of white and red roses, including the iconic Tudor roses. The Tudor Rose, boasting five red petals and five white petals, is the heraldic floral emblem of England. It has been historically used by the Monarchs of the United Kingdom. The name “Tudor Rose” derives from the Tudor Dynasty, which played a pivotal role in unifying the House of Lancaster (symbolized by the Red Rose) and the House of York (symbolized by the White Rose). This union marked the end of the tumultuous period known as the “War of the Roses. This display conveys the message of peace and union Portugal-UK 650 celebrates. Vista Alegre certifies that ‘Alliance 650’, a 30 cm x 23.3 cm dish adorned with meticulously hand-painted elements, is a highly exclusive special edition limited to only 195 copies.
For more information about Portugal-UK 650, please contact:
Monica Martin Roig, Lansons | +44 7949 689 524 | email@example.com