by Alice Mascarenhas in London
Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal this week became the first member of the Royal Family to visit Gibraltar House in London.
As Patron of the Gibunco Gibraltar International Literary Festival she attended a reception where she showed her support for the festival whilst acknowledging its growth and success in its five year history.
In November the festival enters its fifth edition with a host of new and returning speakers both local and international.
Speaking at the reception, at which organisers, sponsors and speakers such as Nicholas Parsons and Anne Widdecombe were present, the Princess Royal said Gibraltar was the right place to hold such an event and suggested she would be keen to visit the festival one day and enjoy what it had to offer.
The Princess Royal, who has visited Gibraltar on several occasions, gave mention to two of the finest venues: The Convent and the Garrison Library.
Chief Minister Fabian Picardo who hosted the event spoke of the Rock being heartened by a sense of belonging to one great British family, and of how 50 years ago Gibraltar had chosen this family in a referendum, and how since then “we have repeatedly ensured we have reinforced our bonds with this wonderful British family”.
Addressing the Princess Royal, the Governor Lt. Gen, Edward Davis, Deputy Chief Minister Dr Jospeh Garcia, Government Ministers Steven Linares and Samantha Sacramento, and invited guests, Mr Picardo emphasised how being British was in great measure about having principles and standards.
“It is about the importance we attach to good education, literature and the arts,” he said, but also about enjoying the freedoms which are at the core of all great literature and giving Gibraltar’s young people incentives to better themselves with a broad education.
“That is what this festival is a part of in Gibraltar,” stated the Chief Minister.
He acknowledged that the patronage of Her Royal Highness was a very powerful endorsement of the “values and aspirations that the people of Gibraltar have as a vibrant and loyal British nation in the family of nations”.
The Princess Royal, who in her own address, as on previous occasions, reiterated her delight in the organisation of a parallel schools festival, heard Mr Picardo say how the festival “reaches deep into our schools” and stimulates participation of people of all ages as well as local writers to up their game.
Nicholas Parson, who has been a regular speaker hosting the Rock’s Just a Minute on several occasions, said he was yet again keen to return and as he has often repeated the festival is a favourite of his.
Newcomer former Conservative MP Anne Widdecombe, although no stranger to the Rock, will form part of the festival for the first time and says she is very excited to be a part of it.
“I am always looking forward to returning. It is always a fascinating place to be in. It is a lovely piece of Britain which isn’t in Britain and that makes it even more fascinating,” she said promising that her participation would offer an overview of her writing and a lot of entertainment including Strictly Come Dancing.
Also returning this year is journalist Kate Adie. Newcomers include writer and broadcaster Melvyn Bragg and comedian Jenny Eclair.
The Gibunco Gibraltar International Literary Festival will be held from 16 to 19 November.