The Daily Telegraph published an article yesterday wherein it refers to the various tributes that are taking place in Malta to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II. The article is the following.
Queen Elizabeth’s ‘isle of happy memories’ Malta fondly pays its respects
Mediterranean island still very proud of its connection to British Empire and ‘much-loved Queen’
ByNick Squires VALLETTA, MALTA11 September 2022 • 7:41pm
She had not lived there for more than 70 years, but a crumbling stone villa in Malta has become the focal point for an island with longstanding links to the Crown as it grieves the death of Queen Elizabeth.
Wreaths were attached to the front door of Villa Guardamangia in Valletta, the capital, above a black and white photograph of the then Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip, her husband.
They lived in the imposing 18th century property for several months between 1949 and 1951, when the prince was a Royal Navy officer serving with the Mediterranean Fleet.
Home from home
It was the only place outside the UK that the Queen ever called home and she always remembered Malta fondly as her “isle of happy memories”.
A steady stream of locals and British tourists filtered to Villa Guardamangia to pay their respects and lay flowers at the front door.
A 10-year-old girl left a drawing of a corgi with the message, “Rest in peace Your Majesty” and a large bunch of white lilies was placed outside the villa by the British High Commission.
“She set such an example to us all,” said Rachel Jordan-Wolf, the executive director of the charity HOPE Together, who quietly wept as she sat outside the entrance to the former royal home. “She never complained, she never said ‘I need a day off’, she just gave of herself constantly.”
“I wanted to show my respect,” said Andrea Humpel, 35, a German woman who lives and works in Malta. “I feel really, really sad. She has been a constant presence in my life.”
“People here love her. Many of us still feel close to England,” said Mario Portelli, 70, a taxi driver.
A normal life
Princess Elizabeth launched herself into cocktail parties and picnics while her husband served on the Royal Navy ships HMS Chequers and HMS Magpie.
“She was very happy here. It was the first, and as it turned out the last time, that she could live as close to a normal life as possible,” said Kenneth Gambin, chief operating officer for Heritage Malta, the government agency which is leading the €10 million (£8.7m) restoration of the property.
“She went shopping for groceries, she handled money by herself, she went on swimming trips and picnics.
“She organised parties for other naval wives and attended Philip’s polo games. She could be herself, away from the restrictions of protocol.”
To keep the memory of Queen Elizabeth alive in Malta, efforts are underway to turn the mansion into a museum.
It is a big challenge – it was last lived in by an elderly woman who allowed it to fall into a dilapidated state. The reception rooms and bedrooms are all empty.
All that remains is a cracked lavatory and sink in what was Princess Elizabeth’s bathroom and a dusty avocado-coloured bath in Prince Philip’s separate bathroom.
In the garden, which is planted with orange trees and trailing bougainvillea, there is a bomb shelter dating from the Second World War, when Malta was collectively awarded the George Cross for heroically withstanding a two-year siege by German and Italian forces.
“Older people feel a sense of nostalgia. But a lot of younger people didn’t even know the Queen lived in Malta until Villa Guardamangia was bought by the government in 2020,” said Mr Gambin.
Malta won its independence in 1964, bringing to an end 166 years of British rule, and became a republic in 1974.
But the British colonial imprint remains pronounced, from red post boxes and telephone kiosks to old-fashioned haberdashers, imperial war memorials and a marble statue of Queen Victoria in a square in Valletta.
Royal British Legion
In a local branch of the Royal British Legion, the walls are adorned with black and white photos of the Queen and Prince Philip on official engagements in Malta and its sister island, Gozo.
Round the corner, the Union flag flew at half-mast from an office block called Britannia House. On the waterfront, the Duke of Kent pub stands next to the Jubilee Snack Bar.
“We are still very, very proud of our connection with Britain, and the broad majority is in favour of keeping anything in our heritage that is British,” said Mario Farrugia, the chairman of the Malta Heritage Trust, a charity that manages historic sites.
He spoke to The Telegraph on a terrace overlooking Malta’s harbour as a soldier in 19th century khaki uniform and white pith helmet fired off a midday gun.
A full gun salute will be fired in Malta when the Queen is laid to rest at her state funeral in Westminster Abbey.
“There was huge regret here for the passing of the Queen. She was, after all, Malta’s only queen, until we became a republic in 1974,” said Mr Farrugia, a military historian who served in Malta’s armed forces.
A petition has been launched to erect a public monument honouring Queen Elizabeth.
“This woman gave so much to the world and I think it is our time to show respect and pay her back by honouring her in the form of a statue,” said Jerome Farrugia, the backer of the online petition.
“From childhood we always had a sense of affinity with the monarchy. I grew up admiring the Queen,” said Henry Catania, an English teacher and designer whose grandfather, a policeman, was head of security for the prince and princess during their time in Malta.
“Everybody was really shocked by her death. We were always dreading the day she would be gone.”
He feels some trepidation over the accession of Prince Charles to the throne. “He will never fill his mother’s shoes but I’m sure he will try his best. We’re so fond of the Queen that whoever was her successor would be overshadowed by her. There will never be anyone like the Queen.”