It took 180 years, but Gibraltar has now been officially recognised as a city. The UK Government announced that, from 29 August, Gibraltar’s city status had been re-affirmed.
This recognition had originally been granted by Queen Victoria, “confirming Gibraltar’s special status in the Realms of Her Majesty the Queen and the family of the United Kingdom, the Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories.
“The government has undertaken detailed research in the National Archives and established that the City of Gibraltar was granted city status by Queen Victoria in 1842 but was omitted from the list of recognised cities. A newly-published record of 81 recognised cities confirms its place among the official list.
“This status is testament to the close relationship between Gibraltar and the United Kingdom. Ninety nine per cent of Gibraltarians reaffirmed their commitment to British sovereignty in a referendum of 2002.”
Noting that Gibraltar had been British in perpetuity under the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713, the UK government said, “When the City of Gibraltar was awarded city status in 1842, it was awarded under Diocesan Letters Patent and not under the normal City Status Letters Patent. Therefore the City of Gibraltar never ended up on the Home Office’s official list of recognised cities.”
Welcoming Gibraltar’s new status, prime minister Boris Johnson said, “It is excellent to see official recognition given to the City of Gibraltar, a huge accolade to its rich history and dynamism. This official recognition re-affirms Gibraltar’s special status in the Realms of Her Majesty, and rightly signifies the pride that Gibraltarians feel for their community and their distinctive heritage.”
Also welcoming the news, Gibraltar chief minister Fabian Picardo said “Gibraltar’s allegiance to our sovereign is as unshakeable today as it was to her great-grandmother, Her Majesty Queen Victoria. Such love and devotion to Queen Elizabeth II was demonstrated unreservedly during this her platinum jubilee year in the welcome extended to the Earl and Countess of Wessex during their recent visit to Gibraltar.
“Today’s re-affirmation of the City of Gibraltar’s status – which indeed is confirmed in Section 2 of the Preamble to Gibraltar’s Constitution – whilst adding little in terms of practical significance, is welcomed warmly. Especially as we approach National Day (10 September), this official recognition of a status that Gibraltar has long held in real terms will add to our sense of pride in being part of the wider UK family and the Commonwealth, as Gibraltar celebrates its unique history of self-determination.”
Gibraltar’s governor, vice admiral Sir David Steel, said, “Today, and as has been the case for over 300 years, the lives of the people of the United Kingdom and Gibraltar are entwined in the most remarkable, unique and enduring way. This re-affirmation of the favour extended to the City of Gibraltar by Queen Victoria in Queen Elizabeth’s special jubilee year is testament to the unbreakable bond between people separated only by geography. I am personally delighted that the City of Gibraltar’s status is now officially recorded alongside those other places granted such distinction within the Realms, Dependencies and Territories of Her Majesty The Queen.”
The full list of recognised cities from the Overseas Territories also includes Hamilton (Bermuda), Jamestown (Saint Helena) and Stanley (Falkland Islands), which was awarded the status as part of the Platinum Jubilee competition.