Royal welcome for Princess Anne after fog diverts flight to Malaga
By Brian Reyes and Eyleen Gomez
The Princess Royal arrived in Gibraltar overland on Friday hours later than scheduled, after her British Airways flight was diverted to Malaga due to heavy fog.
There was a flurry of diplomatic activity as officials sought clearance from Spanish authorities for Princess Anne and her entourage to be ferried down from Malaga.
The transfer was approved and Princess Anne arrived in Gibraltar at around 6.30pm, crossing the border in a minibus on which were also travelling other VIP passengers including former Prime Minister Lady Theresa May and Dame Mary Berry, both of whom were travelling to Gibraltar to participate in the Gibunco Gibraltar International Literary Festival.
Earlier in the day, Spanish media had reported that the Spanish government would lodge “reservations” through diplomatic channels to the Princess Royal’s visit to Gibraltar.
But the Princess Royal is visiting in a private capacity as patron of the Literary Festival and, in the end, Spain cleared her onward travel from Malaga to Gibraltar overland.
The decision came just a day after Pedro Sanchez won support to form a new government, raising hopes of a swift resumption to treaty talks that had been on hold pending the outcome of electoral processes both here and in Spain.
Spain’s decision on Friday, despite its longstanding disapproval of the presence of any British royals in Gibraltar, will be seen as a positive gesture at a delicate juncture in relations between the Rock and its neighbour.
The minibus carrying the Princess Royal and the other VIP passengers crossed the border and headed to the Wessex Lounge, where they were met by the Governor, Vice Admiral Sir David Steel, and Chief Minister Fabian Picardo.
The Princess Royal then made her way to the Convent where crowds had stood for hours to welcome her to Gibraltar.
The crowd cheered and waved flags, with Princess Anne making a brief appearance as she exited her car outside the Convent.
Under time constraints she waved and headed into the Convent, where she was met by the Governor.
Royal fans were gathered too for another famous visitor to the Rock, Dame Mary Berry, an icon within the baking world for many years and a global author thanks in part to her much-loved stints on the Great British Bake Off.
Dame Mary’s fans had been waiting for nearly three hours for her event, which was one of two talks she would be delivering during the Literary Festival.
Dame Mary did not disappoint her fans and still gave her talk.
The Princess Royal, after her long journey, refreshed herself for a dinner at the Sunborn.