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Spanish in the UK

One of the regular features of the TransferGo blog is our look at the diverse cultures that make up the modern day United Kingdom.  Our reason behind highlighting those living and working here is fairly simple; we feel that we all benefit from knowing a bit more about our neighbours, their history, the reasons behind their coming to the UK, and their contributions to our culture. Those migrants in the UK and the rest of the world are the people we are serving and helping in TransferGO to make there life a little bit better.

For this instalment, we will look at migrants from Spain.

Despite much of the rhetoric that surrounded the Brexit campaign, migrants to the UK are by no means a modern day situation. Migrants have been coming to the UK for centuries and often having a profound effect on British culture and society. Perhaps no group of migrants illustrates this concept as well as the Spanish.

According to historical records, the first Spanish immigrants arrived in Britain in the Middle Ages. These immigrants included traders and workers as well as a large number of Spanish royalty and nobility. There are numerous instances of English and Spanish nobility and royalty intermarriage. King Edward I married Eleanor of Castile and were the parents of King Edward II.  Henry VIII’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon, who came to London when she was 15, was the mother of Mary Tudor. During her reign Mary Tudor married Philip II of Spain. All of these members of the royal family introduced a degree of Spanish culture and tradition to the royal court.

According to official estimates the number of Spanish born citizens living in the UK is over 130,000. A large percentage of these migrants have arrived over the last few years as Spanish workers sought to escape the high unemployment and other economic problems at home.  Spanish immigrants are among the top five in terms of numbers in the UK.  Many observers feel that a significant number of these migrants will return to Spain once the unemployment numbers drop and the country’s economy begins to thrive.  Most of the Spanish immigrants to the UK live in and around London. Wales is also home to a large percentage of Spaniards.

It is interesting to note that a large number of British citizens live in Spain. Official records show that more than 300,000 expats live in Spain; the BBC puts the estimate significantly higher at over 700,000. Research shows that Britons living in Spain are rather poorly integrated into the Spanish culture and society with a large percentage unable to speak Spanish and having little interaction with local residents.

Notable Spanish in the UK

As mentioned previously the Spanish have had a substantial impact in the areas of British royalty and aristocracy.  They have also made notable contributions in the area of the arts, sports, and business.

Geri Halliwell is perhaps best known to the world as Ginger Spice. Halliwell, whose mother is Spanish, used the Spice Girls as a launching pad for a number of successful ventures which include solo recording projects and acting roles. She is also a published author and clothes designer.

Actress Natalia Tena, who is best known for her portrayals of Nymphadora Tonks in the Harry Potter film series and Osha in Game of Thrones.  Tena was born in London; both of her parents are Spanish. Tena is also a member of the band Molotov Jukebox, who recently released their second album.

Spanish born Ana Patricia Botín is the CEO of Santander UK, the third largest bank in the UK.  Forbes has ranked her among the most powerful women in the world for over a decade and is currently ranked number 10. The BBC has ranked her as the third most powerful woman in the UK.

Tamara Rojo was born in Canada to Spanish parents. Her family returned to Spain when Tamara was four. Rojo perfected her dancing while in Spain and, at the insistence of her parents, completed her academic studies as well.  Rojo is the artistic director of the English National Ballet and a lead principal dancer. She was previous the principal dancer for The Royal Ballet and often performs with the company as a guest artist.

Spain is well known as being the home of some of the best footballers in history. David Silva, who was born in the Canary Islands, is considered to be among one of the finest Spanish born players playing the UK. The Manchester City midfielder has also played on the Spanish national team with equally memorable results.




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