Princess arrives in Gibraltar amid diplomatic row

28th June 2004, Comments 0 comments

28 June 2004, GIBRALTAR — Britain's Princess Anne was paying a royal visit to Gibraltar Monday to mark three centuries of British sovereignty over the colony amid a diplomatic row between London and Madrid.

28 June 2004

GIBRALTAR — Britain's Princess Anne was paying a royal visit to Gibraltar Monday to mark three centuries of British sovereignty over the colony amid a diplomatic row between London and Madrid.

Stephen Wright, the British ambassador to Madrid, was summoned Friday to the Spanish foreign ministry to hear of Spain's "displeasure" at a year-long programme of events in London and Gibraltar to mark the anniversary of British rule.

Chief Minister Peter Caruana dismissed the objections as "incomprehensible," saying that Gibraltar was British territory and therefore part of Queen Elizabeth II's realm.

The Gibraltar government said in a statement it "deeply regrets that the Spanish government should think that the commemoration of 300 years of our history, our link with Britain and our British sovereignty is offensive to the Spanish people."

A spokesman added: "There is no rationale or credible basis for Spain's objection.".

The statement accused Madrid of seeking to embarrass the princess "by embroiling her visit in an unnecessary controversy."

Caruana called on Gibraltar's 30,000 inhabitants to give Anne "an enthusiastic, warm and loyal welcome."

Britain's capture of the Rock from Spain in 1704 was formalised in 1713 by the Treaty of Utrecht, in which Spain ceded it in perpetuity.

Two years ago, London and Madrid came very close to agreeing a deal on sharing sovereignty.

But later the same year, a unanimous referendum among Gibraltarians voted against the plan.

The princess was last here 50 years ago with her parents and brother,Prince Charles, at the end of a tour of Commonwealth countries, two years after the Queen had been crowned.

At the time, the Spanish government of dictator general Francisco Franco reacted strongly, closed the consulate and imposed border restrictions.

Since then, there have been seven royal visits, but none described as official.

Charles and the late Princess Diana began their honeymoon here in 1981, and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, was also here in 1996.

The princess will stay at the British governor's official residence during her visit which ends on Wednesday.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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