The Queen had a private pre-birthday lunch with a fellow European queen – but who?

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The Queen has a wealth of engagements scheduled to mark her 90th birthday on Thursday, some of which fall on her big day, and others which will take place later on in the year. And it sounds like Her Majesty wanted to celebrate in style with another fellow European royal.

HELLO! Online's sister publication HOLA! reports that the monarch invited Queen Sofía of Spain to a private lunch on Tuesday 19 April.

The pair sat down for the lavish meal at Windsor Castle, the Queen's royal residence in Berkshire, where she has been carrying out engagements in the lead-up to her birthday. As the intimate luncheon took place just two days before, Queen Sofía, 77, no doubt took the opportunity to congratulate Her Majesty and give her warmest wishes in person.

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The Queen invited Queen Sofia of Spain to a private lunch

The royals have managed to maintain a strong friendship over the years, despite the Queen having to address the issue of Gibraltar during her reign.

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Both royals are also distantly related as they descend from Queen Victoria. Queen Sofía's father was King Paul of Greece, the great-grandson of Queen Victoria. Her Majesty, meanwhile, is the great-great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria.

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The two royals are distantly related as they descend from Queen Victoria

The Queen has only carried out one official state visit to Spain, which took place in October 1988. Sofía was pictured warmly welcoming her counterpart with a kiss on both cheeks.

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At the time the Queen acknowledged the peaceful transition from dictatorship to democracy following General Franco's death in 1975. "The democratic Parliament before me, and the manner in which it was achieved, will stand out as one of the brightest pages in your nation's long and proud history," she said in a speech.

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The Spanish royals were welcomed to Windsor Castle in 1986

Two years before in 1986, the Queen and Prince Philip welcomed Sofía and her husband King Juan Carlos to Windsor Castle. A state banquet was held in honour of the Spanish royals.

This was the last state visit from Spain. Current monarchs King Felipe and Queen Letizia were due to carry out their first state visit to the UK in March however the trip had to be postponed amid Spain's political situation.

An official statement issued by the Spanish Foreign Office said: "Notice is given that due to the process of the formation of a new government currently underway in Spain, [the state] visit has been postponed."

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