It would be fair to say that the prospect of a visit from Prince Edward (the skinny one) doesn't fill the average British heart with leaping joy, so how nice for him and his very pleasant wife Sophie (blond, inoffensive) to receive a rapturous reception on their surprisingly controversial Jubilee visit to the tiny British island of Gibraltar yesterday and today.
Queen Sofia of Spain was banned by her government from attending the Queen's Jubilee Sovereign's Lunch in protest at Edward's visit to the Rock of Gibraltar, which Spain still claims as its territory.
Although you might have been excused for thinking the Spanish had more serious things on their mind in terms of international relations, such as saving the euro, Spain's foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo found time to reiterate his views, saying: 'I said from the outset that this visit was deeply unfortunate. Spain's reaction is well known.'Tensions between Britain and Spain have ratcheted up furtherin recent weeks due to a dispute over fishing rights off the peninsula.
But Gibraltar itself is one of those curious outposts of the empire, like the Falkland Islands, where the residents are more British than the British. And, from the beginning of Edward's trip, he has been greeted with the kind of reception more familiar to the Beatles than rather dull minor royals.
Thousands took to the heart of town - which was a sea of red white and blue - to greet and meet Edward and Sophie, who arrived on a British Airways flight, and a 21 Gun Salute was fired in their honour.Chief Minister Fabian Picardo told the Gibraltar Chronicle, “The heart of British Gibraltar beats loud and we welcome every member of the Royal Family who cares to visit us with warmth, with affection and with an absolute certainty that Gibraltar will be British forever”.Mr Picardo described the scenes witnessed in the centre of town as unprecedented but not unanticipated because “we knew that in this Diamond Jubilee year Gibraltar wanted to show its affection for the Royal Family and Her Majesty in particular, and the Earl and Countess of Wessex are here representing Her Majesty and that is why the outpouring has been there.”Edward and Sophie leave Gibraltar in a few hours time.