Argentina angry after Antarctic territory named after Queen

  • 22 December 2012
  • From the section UK
Part of the British Antarctic territory will be named 'Queen Elizabeth Land'
Image caption Argentina disputes the ownership of the British Antarctic Territory

The UK ambassador to Argentina has been summoned to explain to officials in Buenos Aires why part of Antarctica has been renamed in honour of the Queen.

John Freeman was handed a formal protest note "strongly rejecting" the UK's claim to a piece of land known as the British Antarctic Territory.

The southern section was named Queen Elizabeth Land by Foreign Secretary William Hague on Tuesday.

The note claimed the area was part of the Argentine Antarctic sector.

It stated that the Argentine government "strongly rejected" Britain's right to rename the area.

Prior claims

Queen Elizabeth Land - which at 169,000 sq miles is almost twice the size of the UK - was previously unnamed, according to the British Foreign Office.

The UK first staked claim to the British Antarctic Territory in 1908. However, both Argentina and Chile insist they have prior claims to large areas of the same land.

The British Antarctic Survey has three scientific research bases in the territory and the Royal Navy's ice patrol vessel HMS Protector is stationed in the area for part of the year.

The 1959 Antarctic Treaty between 12 nations including Britain and Argentina, outlawed the establishment of new territorial claims in the Antarctic, but stated that it did not reject existing claims.

The Foreign Office said on Tuesday there was a precedent for naming parts of the continent after members of the British royal family.

East Antarctica is home to Princess Elizabeth Land, named after the Queen before she took the throne, and in 2006 an unnamed mountain range in the Antarctic peninsula was named the Princess Royal Range in tribute to the Queen's daughter.

More on this story