King Mohammed VI and his entourage were enjoying a day on the water when they were approached by a Spanish civil guard boat patrolling waters off Spain's North African enclave of Ceuta. Officers approached two speed boats and three jetskis being used by the Royal party to inquire about the identities and destination of those on board.
According to Spanish daily newspaper El Mundo, the infuriated Moroccan monarch shouted: "Do you know who I am?" When Civil Guard officers replied "No!", the monarch removed his cap and sunglasses and was instantly recognised. King Mohammed immediately called up King Felipe VI of Spain to complain.
A message was passed from the Royal Household to Spain's interior ministry and Colonel Andres Lopez, the head of the Guardia Civil in Ceuta, was immediately dispatched to the Moroccan royal yacht to personally apologise. While King Mohammed reportedly recognised that the Spanish officers were "only doing their job" he warned that: "The police did not show me respect".
The attempt to search the royal flotilla on August 7 came days before a huge influx of migrants crossed the Strait of Gibraltar from theMoroccan coast to Spanish shores. More than a thousand African migrants crossed in inflatable dinghies in less than 48 hours, in a wave blamed on deliberate lax control by Moroccan authorities. Trafficking gangs regularly use speed boats and jetskis to transport drugs across the strait.
Spain's Royal Palace insisted King Felipe maintained a "very good relationship with Mohammed VI".
King Felipe and Queen Letizia visited the Moroccan king last month in one of their first official trips abroad since the abdication of King Juan Carlos.