The Chief Minister
On the occasion of a lunch offered by HMGoG on the visit of Earl & Countess of Wessex
Your Royal Highnesses
It has been more than a pleasure to welcome you to your home in Gibraltar.
It has been an honour which, I have shared with every Gibraltarian and resident of Gibraltar.
This diverse Community has welcomed you with open arms.
But more than that, it has welcomed you, Royal Highnesses, as it did Her Majesty in 1954, with an open heart.
For Gibraltar is Her Majesty’s most loyal territory.
And the Gibraltarians the Crown’s most devoted subjects and ardent admirers.
Today, in this magnificent home of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment, we have been served the exact same menu as was served to Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh in 1954.
A small, culinary, demonstration that our appetite for the British Royal family remains undiminished by time.
I want to pause to thank those who have cooked for us and the staff who have served the meal.
I thank the Regiment and CBF for the use of this facility.
And I repeat once more the pride we all felt when they guarded the Royal Palaces this spring.
Gibraltar’s Regiment guarding our sovereign and thereby demonstrating the unbreakable sovereignty link between us.
Of course the Bastion we are on, Grand Battery, originally dates from the Moorish period, having been built upon in the Spanish period and fortified further by Britian.
Your Royal Highnesses are quite literally sitting on a small part of the legendary ‘inviolable strength’ of Gibraltar.
That ‘inviolable strength’ was the first thing to which Her Majesty alluded in her speech after dining on these same delights here, on the Rock, all those years ago.
Faced with recent, unprecedented, challenges we have further demonstrated our inviolable strength in facing off each challenge with the help and support of the United Kingdom, not least in the supply of life saving COVID vaccines.
In fact, at certain points in the last two years the only regular scheduled international flights that remained in Europe were the BA flights to Gibraltar.
And none of those turned back half way over the English Channel, by the way!
The fact is that whether it is on COVID, security or managing Brexit, Her Majesty’s Governments in London and Gibraltar have never worked more closely together than we do today.
That is a real reason for celebration also.
I know that whilst here you have also visited our refurbished Northern Defences as well as the slightly more modern facilities at The Tower.
These facilities, old and new, illustrate the ‘strategic significance’ of Gibraltar which Her Majesty also referred to in her speech in 1954.
And in your time with us on the Rock I know you have experienced all the best of Gibraltar.
Not just our food.
The fact is, there is just no other place like Gibraltar.
But perhaps most importantly, you have got up close and personal with thousands of our people.
There are no other people like the Gibraltarians.
They are our greatest resource.
From the estate at Moorish Castle to the garden of the Convent, you will have met no more loyal subjects of Her Majesty.
And no more diverse and multicultural a people.
Here in this room we have gathered a representation of all of us.
From all our cultures and religions.
All our residential areas and a smattering of our entrepreneurs.
Our charities and representative organisations.
Our media, who have worked their keyboards and cameras to the bone to bring the most magnificent images and anecdotes of your visit to our people and the rest of the world.
Our young people from all schools and all our political parties.
1,300 Gibraltarian students study in the United Kingdom each year on full scholarships.
They further cement our British nature through education and learning.
All our Parliamentarians are also here, from all parties represented in our Westminster Style democracy.
All of Gibraltar is somehow represented here today.
Because we all, from different walks, avenues and stations in life want to showcase our allegiance to the British Crown in celebrating this unprecedented Platinum Jubilee with Her Majesty.
May I please therefore ask that Your Royal Highnesses might report to Her Majesty that the third observation she made about Gibraltar in her after dinner speech in 1954 remains as true today as it was then.
Yes, it’s inviolable strength.
Yes, its strategic significance.
But above all else, the undying loyalty of its people which beats as strong today – if not stronger – than it did in May 1954 when a young Queen and her husband came to visit her people and survey HER Rock for herself.
Please thank her also for her kind message on your arrival.
Because however multicultural and diverse we may be on everything else, we are entirely one dimensional in our Britishness and our loyalty to the British Crown.
For the Gershwins might have been right about the Rockies.
They may indeed crumble one day.
But Gibraltar will never tumble in its devotion to Britain, our Queen and The Crown.
Note to Editors:
Extract from HMTQ’s speech in 1954
“The Rock is famous in history for three things– for its inviolable strength, for the loyalty of its people and for the strategic part it has played on so many different occasions. This occasion may be regarded as a landmark in your history and indicates a determination to go forward in the future in partnership and in amity for the good government and safe-keeping of the colony and the fortress of Gibraltar.”