Gibraltar has very close links with the Royal Navy. | REUTERS

Gibraltar has very close links with the Royal Navy, in fact the two go hand-in-glove. So when the biggest Royal Navy Task Group in decades fails to make a visit, questions will be asked. Britain's giant new aircraft carrier, Queen Elizabeth, along with four Royal Navy destroyers and frigates and two support ships and American and Dutch destroyers sailed past Gibraltar this week as the Task Group entered the Mediterranean.

It had been widely rumoured that the large group of warships would visit Gibraltar this week. But the programme was changed so that Spanish sensitivities were not hurt. Vital talks on the future of the “Rock” are ongoing and Spain is a key NATO ally and this is a NATO mission.

Officially, little has been said, unofficially you can safely say that Spain had a lot to say. In some ways I feel rather sorry for the people of Gibraltar who would have welcomed the 3,000 sailors and Marines with opened arms as they have always done.

Gibraltar has been supporting the Royal Navy for 300 years and watching the Task Group sail-by must have come as a blow and a snub for the 30,000 Gibraltarians. It was probably a sensible move on Britain's part but that will not ease the pain on the “Rock.”

Diplomacy and the bigger picture have been put above the wishes of 30,000 people who have remained loyal to the crown since before the Battle of Trafalgar and have performed a vital service to the Royal Navy.