The Spanish magazine Tiempo first broke the news that Prince Charles and his wife Camilla would be coming to Spain at the end of this month. It went on to state that a row was brewing over the possible inclusion of a visit to Gibraltar. Whether this was mischief making or based on fact is not known. However on Monday Clarence House issued an official statement on the three country tour and it is clear Gibraltar is not on the itinerary.
In a statement Clarence House said: “The British Government has asked The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall to undertake official visits to Portugal, Spain and Morocco from 28th March to 6th April 2011.”
“The themes of the tour will include highlighting commercial diplomacy (including trade and investment promotion), co-operation on climate change and building a low-carbon economy, faith and minority communities and youth opportunities, the military and cultural links.
“The tour will begin in Lisbon, Portugal, where among other engagements The Prince and The Duchess will celebrate long-standing co-operation between the Portuguese and British Navies, support British trade and investment opportunities and highlight the work of the substantial resident British community. The President of Portugal will host an official dinner.
In Spain, The Prince and The Duchess will be received in Madrid by The Prince and Princess of Asturias, attend an official dinner at the Royal Palace and have lunch with Their Majesties The King and Queen of Spain. Again, trade and investment promotion will be to the fore to support the UK economy. Their Royal Highnesses will meet and thank the volunteers who support the large British population in Spain and will also visit Seville, where the Royal Couple will undertake a number of engagements throughout the city.
“The Spring Tour will finish in Morocco. In Rabat, Their Royal Highnesses will be guests of The King of Morocco, who will receive them for a meeting and an official dinner. The programme will focus on support for British companies and their work on corporate social and environmental responsibility, together with youth opportunities. Their Royal Highnesses will also visit the Moroccan 1st Parachute Infantry Brigade (The Prince of Wales is the Colonel-in-Chief of the British Parachute Regiment). Outside the capital, The Prince of Wales will visit the oasis at Errachidia where he will see efforts to prevent and mitigate the impact of desertification as well as the local community’s work to adapt to climate change. Their Royal Highnesses will also undertake engagements related to inter-faith dialogue and culture in the city of Fez.”
Tiempo had also suggested that Prince Charles and Camilla would make a private visit to Sotogrande during their tour, which of course is a short drive from Sevilla. From the luxury urbanisation in San Roque Gibraltar is clearly visible on the horizon. Charles’ brother, Prince Andrew has been a frequent visitor to Sotogrande and Andrew’s former wife, Sarah, holidays there most summers with her daughters. Ironically all have used Gibraltar’s airport to reach Spain without protest.
It is unlikely we shall ever know whether Gibraltar was on the palace’s suggested itinerary or whether the chief minister had lobbied for it. On past form it is unlikely the Foreign Office would have risked causing disruption to such an important tour by bringing Gibraltar in to the equation. In an extremely brief statement yesterday the Gibraltar Government announced the Chief Minister and Mrs Caruana would attend the Royal Wedding at Westminster Abbey on April 29 and the government was not aware of any plans by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall to visit Gibraltar at this time. Make of that what you will.
In ‘La Reina – Muy de Cerca’ – the biography on the Spanish Queen Sofía by celebrated journalist Pilar Urbano their is a section on the scenario surrounding the Spanish King and Queen’s boycotting of Prince Charles and Lady Diana’s wedding in 1981 because of the decision that they should sail on their honeymoon from Gibraltar.
According to the Spanish queen her British counterpart was shocked and dismayed when she found out that the honeymoon would depart from Gibraltar and hence it would be unacceptable for Sofía and Juan Carlos to attend the wedding as the Spanish government would just not accept it.
Juan Carlos apparently pleaded with the Queen for Prince Charles and Lady Diana to come first to the Bay of Cádiz, Algeciras, Málaga or other ports in Spain so that the Spanish Royals could greet them and then escort them to Gibraltar. Curious then that in 2011- 30 years on - a tour starting in Portugal, visiting Spain and going on to Morocco could not have included Gibraltar with the Spanish monarch or the Prince and Princess of Asturias riding with them to La Línea. It should be noted Charles and Diana’s itinerary was drawn up by the British Government and not the Royal Family.
(Photo: 2010 visit by Prince Charles and Camilla to the Czech Republic – Clarence House).