Spain's foreign ministry repeated Monday the government's "disagreement and unease" about the visit to Gibraltar by Britain's Prince Edward.

Diplomatic sources told Efe that the Spanish government had already expressed last month its "disgust and bad feelings" to the British ambassador to Spain, Giles Paxman, over the planned visit by Queen Elizabeth II's youngest child.

The government considers the visit "inopportune" given the present circumstances, which include a conflict over fishing rights in waters near Gibraltar.

This is not the first time that Spain has made such a complaint - the foreign ministry has traditionally responded with a statement of protest every time some member of Britain's royal family has visited the Rock, as occurred in 2009 when Edward's sister, Princess Anne, inaugurated a military clinic there.

Thousands of Gibraltar inhabitants welcomed Edward and his wife, Sophie Rhys-Jones, on Monday at the beginning of their three-day visit to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee.

Queen Sofia of Spain suspended on May 16 her scheduled trip to London for a lunch offered by Elizabeth II to celebrate the 60th anniversary of her coronation, at the suggestion of the Spanish government, which did not consider that visit appropriate under the present circumstances.

Gibraltar is a territory of 5.5 square kilometers (2.1 square miles) on the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea. It has been held by Britain since 1704 and became a British Crown Colony in 1713 in accord with the Treaty of Utrecht.

The Rock currently has some 30,000 residents, who overwhelmingly rejected a 2002 proposal for Britain to share sovereignty over the territory with Spain.

EFE