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Spanish king snubs royal wedding

By BJORN EDLUND

MADRID, Spain -- In a royal snub, Spain told Britain that King Juan Carlos will boycott the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer to protest the couple's plans to begin their honeymoon at Gibraltar, a British crown colony claimed by Spain.

The royal snub came amid a flurry of diplomatic protests Tuesday with Spain's Foreign Minister Jose Pedro Perez-Llorca calling the honeymoon plans 'uncalled-for and inopportune,' a government official said.

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In London, Spanish Ambassador Frederico Arias-Salgedo lodged a note with the British government protesting Prince Charles and Lady Diana's plans to board the Royal Yacht Britannia at Gibraltar, on the southernmost tip of Spain.

A government official said Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia had canceled their plans to travel to London for the royal wedding July 29.

The Spanish monarch was to have stayed at Buckingham Palace for the wedding, but he turned down the invitation on the advice of his government after the the royal couple's travel plans were announced, the official said.

Buckingham Palace said earlier this week the newlyweds would fly to Gibraltar Aug. 1 to board the Royal Yacht Britannia at the start of a Mediterranean cruise.

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Perez Llorca called his British counterpart Lord Carrington in Ottawa to protest Prince Charles' presence in Gibraltar. Spanish officials warned the honeymoon could cause a 'hiatus' in ties between the two countries and might sour relations between their royal houses.

The Rock, as Gibraltar has been known for centuries, controls the entrance to the Mediterranean and has been disputed by both countries since it was ceded to Britain in 1713 under the Treaty of Utrecht.

Late dictator Francisco Franco closed the land frontier to the 2- -square mile rocky outcrop in 1967. The border is still closed.

Britain says Gibraltar's 30,000-strong English-speaking population must decide which power will rule. At the latest referendum 12,138 people voted to remain loyal to London, against 44 pledging allegiance to Spain.

In its protest note, Spain said Prince Charles and Lady Diana could use any Spanish Mediterranean port to board the Britannia -- and avoid a diplomatic row.

As it now stands, Ambassador Arias-Salgedo will be the sole official Spanish guest at the wedding.

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