Princess Anne’s visit to the Falklands later this month is “entirely appropriate” and should not be perceived as a stance on the long-standing dispute between the UK and Argentina on the archipelago, an expert believes. Ian Shields, a veteran and lecturer in politics and international studies at the University of Cambridge, analysed the newly-announced trip the Princess Royal will undertake between November 17 and 22.
Asked whether this tour should be seen as a royal visit or part of Britain’s charm offensive, he told Express.co.uk: “I think it’s the former, the Royal Family, I think, is very adept to avoiding politics.
“The Royal Family have a long-standing great tradition of supporting the military and indeed Princess Anne husband, Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, is a retired Naval officer.
“So I think [this is a royal visit for] a number of things: the Falklands as a British dependency, the elevation of Stanley to city status and the 40th anniversary of the war down there and a lot of British military casualty.
“I think it’s entirely reasonable for a member of the Royal Family to go down there.
“And Princess Anne going down there, one because of her connection via Vice Admiral Laurence and secondly the fact that she is a senior royal but not the King, I think is entirely appropriate and in my view the trip should be seen as a royal visit.
“It’s an entirely timely and appropriate visit by the Royal Family and should not be seen as politics.”
Asked whether the visit would have been seen as more politically charged by the Argentinian Government had King Charles or someone in the line of succession closer to the throne had travelled to the Falklands, Mr Shields said: “Yes, absolutely”.
Despite the precaution seemingly taken by the Royal Family in sending the Princess Royal to the Falkland Islands, Mr Shields believes the Argentinian Government is unlikely to welcome the royal visit.
When asked if the visit would upset Argentina, he said: “I would be hugely surprised if the Argentinian Government didn’t take the opportunity to pass negative comment.”
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Nevertheless, Mr Shields said it was unlikely the royal tour to the Falklands would bear unwanted consequences.
He said: “It’s highly unlikely, it’s symbolic, it’s less provocative than Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, I think it is just a bit of symbolism by the British.”
Princess Anne’s visit was announced by the Falklands’ Government House, the office of the archipelago’s governor Alison Blake CMG.
A statement shared on Monday read: “Her Excellency the Governor Alison Blake CMG is delighted to announce that Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal will visit the Falkland Islands from 17 to 22 November 2022.
“Her Royal Highness, who last visited the Falklands in 2016, will be accompanied by Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence.”
This comes just a few months after Princess Anne attended a special ceremony in June paying tribute to the veterans and the fallen in the Falkland War in 1982.
Delivering a speech during the event, Anne said she was looking forward to returning to Stanley, the capital of the archipelago, to mark its new city status.
News of Anne’s tour also comes only two weeks after UK and Argentina clashed during a meeting of the United Nations Fourth Committee, focused on decolonisation-related issues among other problems.
In it, the UK’s representative said London has no doubt about its sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas, nor about the rights of Falkland Islanders to self-determination.
On the other hand, the Argentinian representative said Las Malvinas – as Buenos Aires calls the islands – South Georgia, South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas are an integral part of Argentinian territory and are being illegally occupied by the UK.
As a consequence, they added, these territories are subject to a sovereignty dispute between the two countries.
They also said several UN resolutions recognise the existence of that dispute and are urging the UK and Argentina to resume negotiations.
In March 2013, Falkland Islanders voted in a referendum asking whether or not they wanted their territory to retain the status of British overseas territory.
99.8 percent of the voters said they wanted to remain a British territory, with only three people voting against it.