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Queen hints at Gibraltar dispute during state banquet speech

She said the two countries do not always see ‘eye to eye’.

The Queen appears to have acknowledged the thorny issue of Gibraltar in a speech at the King of Spain’s state banquet – as the Duchess of Cambridge put on a glittering display.

In what is likely to be interpreted as a reference to the dispute between Britain and Spain over Gibraltar’s sovereignty, the Queen said the two countries do not always see “eye to eye”.

Her comments came after King Felipe VI confidently told both Houses of Parliament that his country and the UK will overcome their “differences” over the British overseas territory and find a solution “acceptable to all involved”.

But his words drew a stinging rebuke from Gibraltar’s chief minister, Fabian Picardo, who said his comments suggested he was treating the territory as one that could be “traded from one monarch to another” like a “pawn in a chess game”.

Mr Picardo urged him to understand that Gibraltar “will remain 100% British”.

Kate sparkled at the Buckingham Palace banquet, staged in honour of the visiting monarch, wearing Diana, Princess of Wales’s Cambridge Lover’s Knot pearl and diamond tiara and a Marchesa gown, and rivalling Spain’s Queen Letizia, in a glittering tiara and a red off-the-shoulder gown.

Queen Letizia of Spain and Queen Elizabeth II at the banquet (Matt Dunham/PA)

With Prime Minister Theresa May and Cabinet members also among the guests, the Queen said: “A relationship like ours, founded on such great strengths and common interests, will ensure that both our nations prosper, now and in the future, whatever challenges arise.

“With such a remarkable shared history, it is inevitable that there are matters on which we have not always seen eye to eye. But the strength of our friendship has bred a resilient spirit of co-operation and goodwill.”

Spain has a long-standing territorial claim on Gibraltar, which has been held by the UK since 1713, but the Prime Minister has previously insisted that its status will not be up for discussion during exit talks from the EU.

The banquet was held in the ballroom at Buckingham Palace (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

With these Brexit talks already under way, Felipe highlighted the different European paths the UK and Spain have pursued, appearing to suggest how Britain turned its back on monetary union when it did not adopt the euro as its currency.

Speaking in Spanish, the King told banquet guests: “In Europe, together, our governments have championed policies to guarantee the progress and well-being of our societies.

“It is true, in this regard, that we have made different choices concerning the dynamics of integration, but that is an integral part of our democratic tradition, rooted in the values of the European civilisation to which our two countries will always belong.”

King Felipe of Spain delivers a speech at the Palace of Westminster (Hannah McKay/Pool Photo via AP)

The Queen was joined by the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry – highlighting the importance of the state visit to members of the Royal Family who are distantly related to the Spanish King.

The Duke of York, Earl and Countess of Wessex, Princess Royal and her husband Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence were also among the guests.

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