The royal couple seemed relaxed and happy and enjoyed talking to people during their visit. / SUR

Gibraltar gives a warm welcome to the Earl and Countess of Wessex

The royal couple threw themselves enthusiastically into the hectic two-day visit and appeared to enjoy every moment on the Rock

DEBBIE BARTLETT GIBRALTAR.

Prince Edward, the Queen's youngest son, and his wife Sophie spent a couple of days in Gibraltar this week to mark the Platinum Jubilee, and they were thronged with well-wishers everywhere they went.

It was a hectic visit for the royal couple, especially as they arrived five hours later than expected on Tuesday because their plane had had to turn back to the UK as a precautionary measure due to what British Airways described as minor technical issues. Their agenda had to be hastily rescheduled, but they were very keen to do and see as much as they could, and began that same evening with a visit to the Nautilus Project at the Bayside complex.

The original plan had been for the Earl and Countess to walk down Main Street from the Convent, which is the official residence of the Governor of Gibraltar, to City Hall on Tuesday afternoon, but that was changed to Wednesday morning and crowds of people turned out to wave flags and cheer. The prince and his wife seemed relaxed and happy, and took time to chat to people and to pose for photos.

After visiting the Moorish Castle Estate together, which has been refurbished since they were last in Gibraltar in 2012, the couple had individual appointments for the rest of the day. Prince Edward toured the Naval Base while his wife visited the Upper Rock, the Special Olympics facility, where she had a go at golf and floor hockey, the Scouts and Guides, where she took part in archery, and even tried her skill at paddleboarding on a trip to Sandy Bay later.

Thursday was the most ceremonial day of the royal visit, with the Queen's Birthday Parade in Casemates Square with the Royal Gibraltar regiment in their new colours, which Prince Edward had presented to them at Windsor earlier this year.

The Queen, who sent a personal message to the people of Gibraltar on this occasion, will undoubtedly have been delighted at the warm welcome and appreciation afforded to the Earl andCountess, and they showed every sign of having enjoyed every moment of their visit.