British jubilee Gibraltar visit irks Spain

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IOL Tonight Pic Zara Phillips wedding 12 REUTERS Britain's Prince Edward. Spain told Britain it was upset and uncomfortable at a planned visit by Prince Edward to the disputed territory of Gibraltar. REUTERS/David Moir

Madrid -

Spain told Britain it was “upset and uncomfortable” at a planned visit by Britain's Prince Edward to the disputed territory of Gibraltar, the Spanish foreign ministry said Thursday.

In talks with Britain's ambassador in Madrid Giles Paxman, ministry official Santiago Cabanas “expressed how upset and uncomfortable the government is with the visit” by Edward and his wife Sophie Rhys-Jones from June 11-13, a statement said.

The visit is part of a summer of celebrations to mark the 60th year on the British throne of Edward's mother, Queen Elizabeth II, the British embassy in Madrid told AFP.

It made no immediate direct reaction to Spain's complaint.

Gibraltar, a largely self-governing enclave complete with British pubs and red telephone boxes nestled under a cliffside at the western neck of the Mediterranean, is a rare diplomatic sore point between London and Madrid.

Spain ceded Gibraltar to Britain in 1713 under the Treaty of Utrecht but has long argued that it should be returned to Spanish sovereignty.

Britain refuses to renounce sovereignty against the wishes of Gibraltarians.

The last British royal visit to Gibraltar was by Edward's sister, Princess Anne, in 2009, which likewise annoyed Spain. - Sapa-AFP

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