Friday, April 01, 2011

Don’t mention Gibraltar

image Prince Charles visited Gibraltar on his honeymoon with Princess Diana in 1981, a move that led to King Juan Carlos of Spain turning down an invitation to their wedding.

This time round, Charles tried to avoid the issue being raised again by not visiting the rock on his trip to Spain with Camilla. However, as if not to let the opportunity go by, the Prince of Asturias chose to make passing reference to the disputed territory in his speech at a gala dinner at the royal palace in Madrid.

"I express my hope that our authorities make progress towards a solution to our historic bilateral dispute which is yet to be resolved," said the 43-year-old Prince of Asturias in a speech at the Palacio Real in Madrid.

Spain still claims sovereignty over the Rock which is  home to 28,000 Gibraltarians, who in a 2002 referendum overwhelmingly rejected a deal to shared sovereignty between the two nations and demanded to remain a part of Britain.

The King of Spain, his wife Queen Sofia and the Prince and Princess of Asturias are to be guests at the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

The two royal families share the same ancestor, Queen Victoria.

PS How do press photographers manage to consistently get pictures of Charles like this. Not only is he pulling the strangest face but he seems to be commenting to Felipe about  his wife’s backside .

1 comment:

Bill said...

I saw reports of the visit of Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall (aka 'Camilla') on the main Spanish TV channel both yesterday morning and today, together with reports in various Spanish newspapers.

It is inevitable that the status of Gibraltar be alluded to, but I think the way the Prince of Asturias did so was pretty well balanced and 'opaque' - it is obvious that this is historically a subject of tension between the two countries, but I think the way he chose (or the Spanish government perhaps chose on his behalf) to express himself on this matter was designed to draw attention to this 'outstanding issue', but not to cause embarrassment to their guests or to raise tensions. In other words it was a pretty standard diplomatic formula - and nothing much to get excited about.

Quite a few years ago I spent a couple of years living in Morocco (in Casablanca) and that country has, as I'm sure you are aware, its own territorial claims on two Spanish enclaves on the Moroccan coast. I have studied this matter over a number of years and whilst the Spanish government asserts the two issues are totally dissimilar, this relatively impartial observer [I happen to be British, but I have no particular view on either the Gibraltar or the Ceuta/Melilla issues] has never really been able to discern any fundamental differences in these territorial disputes. In an era when 'gunboat diplomacy' is no longer fashionable between developed countries the only real criterion is nowadays generally considered to be the wishe of the local populations and these in all three cases are pretty clear. Whether that should necessarily entail the expenditure of vast sums of national treasure by the 'home country' to maintain the status quo on behalf of small numbers of people (I refer specifically to the Falklands/Malvinas dispute) is less clear to me.

By the way I came across your blog today as a result of your article on RHD hire cars in Spain; I had also been asked to write on the matter by Brad Sullivan, although my 'take' on the matter was a little different to your own.

Best regards,