The origins of Gun Salutes are not well documented. The most accepted theory
is that when entering foreign ports British Men o'War would fire from offshore
to demonstrate that their guns were empty and to indicate friendly intentions
towards the port being visited. The ship's company would not have enough time to
reload before coming in range of shore batteries.
Salutes are of varying numbers but those fired on a Royal Anniversary are
normally of 21 guns. Why 21 guns is something of a mystery but may have to do
with limiting waste, which for ships, with precious little space to store
powder, was a prime consideration.
Regulations today allow for the firing of Royal Salutes in the capital cities
of the United Kingdom and in Gibraltar and on Royal Anniversaries.
The official saluting station for Gibraltar is listed in Queen's Regulations
as either Devil's Gap Battery or Europa. The former location has fallen into
disrepair and is too small for the recently acquired 105 mm Light Gun. The
latter location is somewhat bleak and has never been used. Prior to 2001,
salutes were fired in the Naval Ground but the increasing security effort
required necessitated a move to a safer location.
The following events are commemorated with a gun salute