King's College London
Online Exhibitions
West of Suez: Britain and the Mediterranean, 1704-1967

Life in the British Overseas Territory

Four photographs showing political life in GibraltarFour photographs showing political life in GibraltarGibraltar is classified as a British Overseas Territory; it is defined as being self-governing, but foreign policy and defence remain under the control of Britain.

British Forces Gibraltar, the collective name given to security forces in the territory, is made up of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment, which is concerned with internal affairs, and British Naval and Air Force personnel.

In 1967 and in 2002 Gibraltarians voted overwhelmingly to remain part of Britain and to reject claims of Spanish sovereignty. Although the status of Gibraltar remains politically contentious in relations between Britain and Spain, most of the 32,000 Gibraltarians, as evidenced through these processes of self-determination, are determined to remain British citizens.

An insight into life in Gibraltar is provided by this unpublished collection of photographs from the 1960s, previously held in the Commonwealth Office Library. The image shown here illustrates elements of political life. On the left are scenes from a 1963 demonstration in support of self-determination; on the right are scenes from the 1964 constitutional conference and a meeting of the Trade Union movement.

Other photographs included in the work illustrate tourism, religious life and the Ceremony of the Keys, where the locking of the gates to the Old Town and garrison of Gibraltar is symbolically re-enacted. This ceremony marks the period in the 18th and 19th centuries when the four outer gates to the town would be secured at night to prevent them being breached by hostile parties.

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