“The government has considered that, under the current circumstances, in would be inappropriate for Queen Sofia to attend Queen Elizabeth’s jubilee,” a statement from the royal palace in Madrid said.
British ambassador Giles Paxman went to Spain’s foreign ministry last week to hear about the conservative People’s party’s “disgust and upset” at Prince Edward’s planned June trip to the Rock.
“During the course of the conversation, and amongst other topics, [officials] were able to express the disgust and upset of the government for the visit of the royal highnesses the Count and Countess of Wessex to Gibraltar from June 11 to 13,” a foreign ministry statement said at the time.
Relations between Britain and Spain over Gibraltar have returned to a state of growing confrontation since Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s People’s party took power in December.
The cancellation came as Spain’s royal family was under intense scrutiny at home after King Juan Carlos was forced to apologise for going elephant-hunting in Botswana while ordinary Spaniards suffered austerity, recession and unemployment.
Conservative commentators in Spain are routinely enraged by royal visits to Gibraltar, and the visit by Prince Edward was no exception.
Spain claims sovereignty over the Rock, which has been British for the past 300 years.
Foreign ministry officials claimed the move was an example of the “extraordinary sensitivity” of the royal family to the feelings of Spain’s government.
The Queen’s trip to join in the celebrations may also have looked awkward alongside the complete absence of public celebration in Spain to mark the golden wedding of Sofia and Juan Carlos last week.
The couple are reported to be effectively separated, with Sofia reportedly spending much of her time abroad with her daughters.
Rumours that the king has a German lover have been denied by the woman in question, who has threatened to sue British newspapers who publish her name.