Spanish queen snubs jubilee lunch over Gibraltar
Queen Sofia of Spain has abandoned her plans to visit London on Friday to attend Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee celebration lunch, because of disputes over the territory of Gibraltar.
The news comes following the revelations of Prince Edward and his wife Sophie’s planned visit to Gibraltar from 11th to 13th June that led to British ambassador, Giles Paxman’s visit to Spain’s foreign minister last week to hear about the Conservative People’s Party’s “disgust and upset” at the trip.
A statement from the royal palace in Madrid said: “The government has considered that, under the current circumstances, it would be inappropriate for Queen Sofia to attend Queen Elizabeth’s jubilee.”
Gibraltar, the overseas British territory since 1713, has twice rejected Spanish sovereignty – in 1967 and 2002 – but the Spanish are adamant in their will to claim back the territory. The tensions between the two countries over Gibraltar have grown ever since prime minister Mariano Rajoy’s Conservative People’s Party came into power.
Foreign ministry officials claimed the decision to ignore the invitation was an example of “extraordinary sensitivity” of the royal family to the feelings of the Spanish government.
King Juan Carlos had already declined his invitation to the lunch at Windsor Castle on Friday after he underwent hip replacement surgery last month following a fall during an elephant hunting expedition in Africa.
The royal palace had then announced that Queen Sofia would attend the ceremony on her own.
The visit to Gibraltar by the British royal family has constantly annoyed Spain. In 1981, the Spanish royal couple declined an invitation to a wedding between Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, because they planned to visit Gibraltar as part of their honeymoon.
In 2009, Princess Anne’s visit to Gibraltar was also negatively received by the Spanish as the government filed an official complaint.