By John Smith •
Updated: 18 Nov 2023 • 12:09
Princess Anne was greeted by the Governor of Gibraltar
Credit: Governor of Gibraltar Office
The relationship between Britain, Gibraltar and Spain is complicated and becomes more intricate when a member of the British Royal Family visits the Rock.
Despite public protestations that Madrid genuinely wants to see a mutually beneficial agreement over the movement of workers and visitors across the border, the last week has seen a considerable tightening of border restrictions.
The Gibraltar Government was forced to issue a press release numbered 793 on November 15 (which has since ‘disappeared’ from its official press release website) which stated;
“Yesterday, 14th November 2023, around 35 persons were refused entry into Spain from Gibraltar.
“Most were British nationals and holders of Gibraltar Civilian Registration Cards (blue / magenta ID cards).
“The Borders and Coastguard Agency are also aware that a British national (Gibraltarian) was refused entry to Spain for failing to produce a Gibraltar red ID.”
There are two main types of ID card in Gibraltar, Pink cards are issued to Gibraltarians and permanent residents of Gibraltar. Blue cards to other EU nationals and many UK passport holders who have only been resident in Gibraltar for less than five years, so it was UK passport holders with blue cards who were refused entry into Spain.
It cannot just be a coincidence that these enforced existing border restrictions came into play just a few days before H.R.H. Princess Anne was due to arrive in Gibraltar in her role as Patron of the ongoing Literary Festival and the then caretaker Spanish Government had made it known that it had ‘reservations’ about the visit.
The plot however took a distinctly bizarre turn when the aircraft carrying the Princes Royal, former Prime Minister Theresa May and Dame Mary Berry was unable to land in Gibraltar due to fog and diverted to Malaga.
There followed a flurry of diplomatic discussions and eventually it was agreed that Princess Anne could deplane and rather than be refused entry and sent back to the UK (which has happened in the past to other travellers) was allowed to enter Gibraltar by crossing through Spanish soil.
The trio of VIP visitors were picked up by a Spanish registered vehicle and were delivered to Gibraltar where they transferred to a Gibraltar plated car which flew the Royal Standard.
Now that the Pedro Sánchez Government in Spain has finally obtained a majority, it is hoped in Gibraltar that once the Princess Royal has left that the border crossings will return to ‘normal’ and that the proposed treaty can finally be brought to a positive conclusion.
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Married to Ophelia in Gibraltar in 1978, John has spent much of his life travelling on security print and minting business and visited every continent except Antarctica.
Having retired several years ago, the couple moved to their house in Estepona and John became a regular news writer for the EWN Media Group taking particular interest in Finance, Gibraltar and Costa del Sol Social Scene.
Currently he is acting as Editorial Consultant for the paper helping to shape its future development.
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