Earl of Wessex and wife begin Diamond Jubilee visit to Gibraltar
On Monday 11th June 2012 Her Majesty the Queen's youngest son, Edward, The Earl of Wessex, accompanied by his wife Sophie, the Countess of Wessex arrived on board the British Airways scheduled flight at 11.50 at Gibraltar International Airport.
They were met on the tarmac by Sir Adrian Johns, The Governor of Gibraltar and Chief Minister Fabian Picardo. They then drove across the runway to RAF Gibraltar to inspect a guard of honour and drove down a packed Winston Churchill Avenue to John Mackintosh Square where they watched excerpts from the production “An Audience with the Queen” performed by the Gibraltar Academy of Dance. They then walked down Main Street, which was lined on both sides by enthusiastic Gibraltarians waving flags, to the Governors residence, The Convent.
They planted a Jubilee tree in the Convent Garden and attended an award ceremony for recipients of the Duke of Edinburgh award.
In the afternoon they visited GibDock to see the progress on refitting of a naval tug, converting it to a medical ship, the “Jubilee Hope” a project by the Vine Trust as part of Gibraltar’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. The Countess of Wessex, who is also President of Girlguiding UK visited the Girl Guides headquarters on the Rock.
In the evening the royal visitors laid the foundation stone for the Diamond Jubilee monument, Commonwealth Park and were entertained by the Government of Gibraltar at Kings Bastion leisure centre.
The events of the day passed off without any incidents. The previous Saturday, whilst locals were celebrating the Jubilee a Spaniard wearing a national football shirt started abusing people in Main Street and shouting that Gibraltar was Spanish. This was photographed by the Spanish press, who may have encouraged him. He was taken to the frontier by the police.
Spain's foreign ministry issued a formal complaint in May to Giles Paxman, Britain's ambassador to Madrid, in which the government of Mariano Rajoy expressed upset and concern over the proposed visit. Spanish foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo has called the trip 'deeply unfortunate'.
UK sources indicate that the visit was planned over two years ago, and has been very welcome in Gibraltar as have the Earl and Countess of Wessex. On Tuesday they have a full program of events, starting with a review of HM Forces Gibraltar and a flypast by aircraft of the RAF. In the evening is the annual Queens Birthday parade and garden party at the Convent. They leave on Wednesday.
By Jim Watt - Gibnews.net - Gibraltar