Prince Edward and his wife Sophie with Fabian and Justine Picardo in Gibraltar in 2012. / AFP

Spain is reportedly unhappy about next month's royal visit to Gibraltar

Spanish media are claiming that foreign minister José Manuel Albares has made an official complaint to the UK government, saying the visit by the Earl and Countess of Wessex is "inappropriate" at the moment

DEBBIE BARTLETT Gibraltar

The Earl and Countess of Wessex are to pay a visit to Gibraltar from 7 to 9 June as part of the Queen’s platinum jubilee celebrations, but reports in the Spanish press are claiming that Spain is not happy about the visit.

There was no response from the Spanish government when the visit was announced in late March, but now, nearly two months later, the Diplomat in Spain website is saying that the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the European Union and Cooperation, José Manuel Albares, has made an official complaint to the UK, on the grounds that the royal visit is “inappropriate” within the context of the ongoing negotiations regarding Gibraltar’s future relationship with the EU.

SUR in English asked the Gibraltar government for its reaction to this claim, but their response was that they will not be commenting on the matter.

Not the first complaint

If the comment from the Spanish Foreign Ministry is true, this would not be the first complaint of its type. The King and Queen of Spain refused to attend the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in July 1981 because the royal newlyweds were due to start their honeymoon cruise from Gibraltar, and in 2012, almost at the last minute, Queen Sofía cancelled her attendance at the celebrations to mark Queen Elizabeth’s 60 years on the throne because of tensions over the visit by Prince Edward and his wife Sophie, which was the last time they came to Gibraltar.

Sovereignty is not up for negotiation

Meanwhile, the talks over Gibraltar’s relationship with the EU appear to have been progressing well, according to recent comments made by Fabian Picardo, the chief minister of Gibraltar, and José Manuel Albares. Picardo told the Gibraltar parliament that he believes two more rounds of negotiations will be needed to finalise what he said would be “an historic agreement”, although he stressed that nothing is certain yet.

He also insisted that the question of sovereignty has not been raised during the negotiations, and that the other parties know well that Gibraltar would not countenance any change to sovereignty whatsoever.