Why Gibraltar should have a Royal City status

Joe Garcia

With Royalty in the air, it may not be amiss for me to return to my perennial idea that Gibraltar should be granted Royal City status. And why not?

To begin with, Gibraltar has always shown strong affection to the Royal Family, to the Queen, and it has often filtered through that there is Royal reciprocity.

And even if the thoughts of the Royal Family tend to be kept secret, there are times when they come across loud and clear.

Let me give you an example. There is a conference centre in the UK run by the Foreign Office which is called Wilton Park, which they describe as an 'international forum for strategic discussion, bringing together leading representatives from the worlds of politics, diplomacy, academia, business, civil society, the military and the media.'

It is a place 'where conflicting views can be expressed and debated openly and calmly, allowing acceptable compromise and resolution to be achieved.' However, when I was invited to attend, the two Spanish representatives who had also been invited to attend, simply walked away when they found out that Gibraltar would be there!

Not only that, but during my week's stay there it was announced that following the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana, the Royal couple would be flying to Gibraltar to start their Mediterranean honeymoon.

The Spanish King, who had been invited to the wedding, decided to boycott it. And this became a topic of conversation at Wilton Park, and since I was from Gibraltar, many came round to obtain my views about the right Royal row.

These were people in high places from different countries, and most of them thought that the Gibraltar visit by Prince Charles and Lady Diana would be scrapped, as Britain would not endanger her relations with Spain because of our little Rock in the Mediterranean.

They would ask me about it, and my view was that the Royal visit to Gibraltar would not be cancelled. And indeed, when the day came, the Royal couple flew to Gibraltar to a tumultuous welcome, displaying to the world the strength of feeling, the unbreakable link, between Royalty and the Rock.

And even before then, a UK Commonwealth Minister attending a constitutional conference in Gibraltar, discreetly suggested that Gibraltar should be granted a Royal City status.

There was enthusiasm in Gibraltar's governmental circles at the time, but UK officials started looking for reasons 'why not', one such luminary suggesting that such a status could not be granted because such a thing did not exist - which, of course, was not and is not true.

Over time, I have resuscitated the idea because Gibraltar deserves a status, removed from the shackles of colonialism, and representing something of a different character which Gib-raltarians could be justifiably proud of.

After all, Gibraltar was ceded to the Crown of Great Britain, so the Queen would remain our Queen and Gibraltar could dress itself with the symbols of Royalry... and that would make us stand out among dependent territories.

Of course the details could be worked out subsequently, such as the idea I have suggested in the past of Gibraltar having a Royal Governor, not necessarily to live here permanently, and represented by someone who would not be called a Governor.

So how about it?