23rd June 2024
The Rock of Gibraltar
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Gibraltar can now officially call itself a city – 180 years late

Gibraltar can now officially call itself a city, 180 years after it was first granted the status by Queen Victoria.

The British Overseas Territory had bid to become a city earlier this year as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. However, when researchers looked through the National Archives, they found it had already been recognised as one in 1842.

Gibraltar has been a British overseas territory since 1713, when it was ceded to Britain under a peace treaty signed following the War of the Spanish Succession.

City status is often associated with having a cathedral, university, or large population, but there are no set rules for it being granted – it’s awarded by the monarch on advice of ministers. City status brings little in the way of material benefits, but it can increase global standing, and can result in an increase in visitor figures and possible inward investment for local businesses.

Having its city status formally recognised was a ‘great moment to reflect on the fantastic relationship between Gibraltar and the UK’, Fabian Picardo, the Chief Minister for Gibraltar, said in an interview with the BBC [see Tweet below], although he also acknowledged that there was ‘very little’ difference to having city status.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson described it as a ‘huge accolade’ celebrating Gibraltar’s ‘rich history and dynamism’.

A Jubilee competition in the UK saw 39 places apply to become cities, and eight new cities were named.

Milton Keynes in England, Dunfermline in Scotland, Bangor in Northern Ireland and Wrexham in Wales all received the title. Colchester and Doncaster also became cities.

It was also a first for places in an Overseas Territory – Stanley, in the Falklands – and a crown dependency – Douglas, in the Isle of Man – to win city status. 

Gibraltar is now one of only five outside the UK to be recognised, with Hamilton in Bermuda and Jamestown in Saint Helena already on the list.

Southend in Essex was also granted city status earlier this year following the murder of British MP David Amess, who had represented the Southend West constituency since 1997 and had long campaigned on the issue.

An updated record of the 81 places named as cities has now been published.


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