MADRID – With the lighting of a traditional Indian ornamental lamp, Spain’s Queen Sofia on Saturday opened the 22nd edition of Madrid’s popular Kermes diplomatic bazaar for charity.
Sofia, who serves as honorary president of the Association of International Diplomats in Spain (AIDE), made a rare public appearance to inaugurate the biennial event organized by the spouses of diplomats currently accredited to Spain.
Greeting the monarch at Madrid’s Palacio Municipal de Congresos convention center was AIDE’s current president, Dolly Misri, the wife of India’s ambassador to Spain, Vikram Misri.
In her welcome speech, Dolly described the queen as “an inspiration not only to Spaniards but to people all over the world who hope to contribute to improving the human condition.”
The convention center filled quickly with a public hoping to get a glimpse of the monarch while enjoying cultural activities, handicrafts and traditional foods provided by the more than 50 countries that make up the diplomatic corps in Madrid.
A Russian music box, a golden vase from Thailand and a small Egyptian sculpture were just a few of the objects offered to the queen during her hour-long tour of the bazaar, during which she took time to speak to all of the diplomats’ spouses manning each stand.
Erkezhan Dyussenbayeva and her husband, Kazakh Ambassador Bakyt Dyussenbayev, presented Sofia with a porcelain figure and spoke at length with the monarch at a table laden with Kazakh food products and beneath giant posters announcing the international exposition Expo 2017 on Future Energy that is to be held next year in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana.
“We wanted to bring a variety of samples of products from our country that we hope people will enjoy, so that we can raise as much money as possible for people in need,” the Kazakh ambassador’s wife told EFE.
AIDE President Misri said the proceeds from the Kermes bazaar go to the Queen Sofia Foundation food bank and several other Spanish charities and NGOs.