Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Princess Anne Wednesday arrived in Gibraltar on a three-day official visit that has sparked complaints from Spain

Princess Anne Wednesday arrived in Gibraltar on a three-day official visit that has sparked complaints from Spain which contests London's rule over the strategic territory.The princess flew into Gibraltar on a Royal Air Force jet for her second visit in four years to the largely self-governing British outpost which lies at the western entrance to the Mediterranean.Her programme includes a walk-about in the city centre, a tour of a British naval base headquarters and the opening of a military medical centre which carries her name and is located on the isthmus that links the Rock to the land frontier with Spain.As with previous trips by British royals to Gibraltar, the visit has met with opposition in Spain.Spanish Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Angel Lossada telephoned the British Ambassador in Madrid, Denise Holt, to express Madrid's displeasure when he was first informed of the princess' visit.Centre-right daily newspaper El Mundo called the visit "inopportune" in an editorial last month while Jose Ignacio Landaluce, a lawmaker with the conservative opposition Popular Party, blasted it as "an affront to Spain".The visit comes as Madrid steps up claims that Gibraltar does not have territorial waters because this was not specified in the 1713 treaty of Utrecht under which Spain ceded the Rock to Britain, following its capture in 1704.Britain does not agree with Spain's contention. The naval base which Princess Anne will tour on Thursday houses two armed Royal Navy patrol boats which are the first line of defence of British territorial waters around the Rock.The princess visited Gibraltar in 2004 to mark the 300th anniversary of British rule over the territory.Spain also protested in 1954 when Queen Elizabeth II made her first and only visit to Gibraltar.Zapatero administration consider the visit inopportune, and ‘wounding the sensitivity’ of the Spanish people.In particular they are upset that the Princess will be opening a military clinic, which will bear her name, while on the Rock, the Princess Royal Medical Centre, and that it is built, according to the Spanish, on the isthmus which links the Rock to the mainland, an area which Spain did not hand to the British Crown in the Treaty of Utrecht.

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