The Earl and Countess of Wessex’s Visit to Gibraltar: June 11-13

  June 14, 2012 at 5:00 am by

View full gallery at the Telegraph

As part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, the Earl and Countess of Wessex undertook a highly successful tour of Gibraltar from June 11 to 13. The British Overseas Territory is home to almost 30,000 residents who all seemed to be out in force to welcome the royal couple. Edward and Sophie were greeted by cheering crowds, many of them waving Union Flags and chanting “British Forever”. Buntings and other decorations were everywhere to be seen.

Prince Edward and Sophie looked thrilled to visit the region (it was the Countess’ first tour of Gibraltar) and went out of their way to communicate with the impressive crowds that gathered at their every appearance. They were also visibly touched by the outpouring of patriotism. One of the most significant displays of loyalty to the Crown was the projection of the Queen’s giant image on the Rock of Gibraltar in the culmination o Gibraltar’s Diamond Jubilee celebration; the image of the beaming Monarch measured at least 100 yards and was visible from quite a distance.

View full gallery at the Telegraph

Chief Minister Fabian Picardo described the visit as having gone “tremendously well”, adding: “To say it has been an emotional time is to underestimate how much the Union Jack has united Gibraltar this week. It has been a visit which has been inspiring for every single Gibraltarian.” Fabian Picardo also presented the Earl of Wessex of a replica of the Keys of Gibraltar. The presentation was made in front of a photograph of Queen Elizabeth touching the real Keys of Gibraltar during her visit in 1954.

Ordinary Gibraltarians were just as enthusiastic. 93-year old Victoria Pitalya eagerly awaited meeting with the royal couple; as they arrived, she leaped out of her wheelchair waving Union Jack, excitedly chanting “Here they come, here they come! It’s so exciting!” As the Earl and Countess made their way towards the awaiting crowd, the old lady beamed at them and express what all Gibraltarians appeared to be feeling: “Thank you for coming, it means so much to us.”

View full gallery at the Telegraph

Among the many events the royal couple attended was a visit to the Naval Base where they watched a RAF flypast. They were also present at the annual Queen’s Birthday parade and garden party at the Convent – the official residence of the Governor of Gibraltar. Prince Edward and Sophie lay the foundation stone for a Diamond Jubilee memorial, inaugurated and named the viewing terrace as the “Diamond Jubilee Terrace” and the General Aviation areas as the “Wessex Lounge”.

The royal visit was not without controversy; the Spanish Government made and official complaint over the visit expressing “upset and concert” over it. Earlier, Queen Sofia of Spain had been advised against attending the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Lunch at Windsor Castle over the same issue. Spain still claims sovereignty over the territory which was ceded “in perpetuity” to Britain under the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht.

To read more about the tour, visit this thread – The Earl and Countess of Wessex: Visit to Gibraltar.

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