The love story of Queen Elizabeth II in Malta – Most beautiful years of the princess?
Prince Phillip was stationed in Malta as an officer of the Royal Navy. Queen Elizabeth II., then Princess Elizabeth and Duchess of Edinburgh, lived in Villa Guardamangia in Pietà on Malta between November 1949 and 1951. For the princess, these were fairytale days with endless picnics, balls and dances, sunbathing and water-skiing in Malta. In 2007, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in Malta.
How did Queen Elizabeth II come to Malta?
The couple lived near the Maltese capital for two years between 1949 and 1951. The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, was stationed as a naval officer on HMS Magpie. Malta was an important strategic base for the Allies against the Axis powers around Nazi Germany during World War II. The three sisters of Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark were involved with high-ranking officers and nobles of the German Wehrmacht. On September 2, 1950, at the age of 29, Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philip became the captain of HMS Magpie. The anchorage was at the Three Cities in Senglea (towns and sights in Malta).
Why was Princess Elizabeth the heir to the throne and not your uncle Edward VIII?
King Edward VIII abdicated in the first royal year before the official coronation in 1936 (abdicated). Edward married the previously divorced American Wallis Simpson. They went into exile in France. Thus, surprisingly, Prince Albert became king. His self-chosen sovereign name was King George VI. The “insignificant” ten-year-old Princess Elizabeth became heir to the throne at the age of 10, after her father King George VI became king. Elizabeth was older than sister Margaret.
After the death of his father George V, Edward VIII, Duke of Windsor, became King of Great Britain, Ireland, the Colonies and Emperor of India on January 20, 1936. At the same time, the British king is head of the Church of England. The Church of England prohibits divorcees from remarrying as long as the former spouse is alive. The governments of the United Kingdom, many colonies, were against marriage for political and moral reasons. Wallis Simpson was facing her second divorce from a marriage. Complicating matters, police investigations identified another lover with car dealer Guy Trundle. The FBI was investigating other lovers as well.
Edward declared that he loved Wallis Simpson and would marry her against the government’s wishes. Opposition from Commonwealth governments to Simpson as the king’s consort was too great. 11 months after ascending the throne, King Edward VIII abdicated on December 10, 1936. His younger brother became King George VI, and Edward VIII was made Royal Highness, Duke of Windsor, the next day.
Since at least the majority of the king’s advisors, as well as the Church, did not consider Wallis Simpson an appropriate King, no legal avenues for the marriage were presented to the public. The marriage ended with Edward’s death on May 28, 1972.
When King Charles, himself divorced from Princess Diana, married divorcee Camilla Parker-Bowles, he was not a king. Also, due to advanced age, no procreation of further heirs to the throne was expected.
The party for the 24th birthday of Princess Elizabeth took place on Malta
The couple’s stay on the island was one of the few opportunities to lead a relatively normal life. Villa Guardamangia, or Malta, was the only place outside the United Kingdom that the Queen ever called home. It is said to have been one of the happiest times in the princess’s life as the wife of a naval officer. Relaxed and free:
- Dancing evenings and samba dances (Navy ball at Hotel Phoenicia)
- Tea parties for the officers’ wives
- Driving a car
- parties with friends
- shopping and going to the hairdresser
Princess Elizabeth Alexendra Mary had made friends with wives of officers. Thus, The Telegraph quoted the butler John Dean. He served Prince Philip’s uncle in Malta, Lord Louis Mountbattens. The Queen mentioned on her 60th wedding anniversary in Malta that she celebrated her 24th birthday in Malta on April 21, 1950. This is remarkable in that the Queen postponed her birthday parade in Britain to the warmer summer months there. This birthday tradition has been in place for nearly 300 years. King George II was too cold to have a birthday celebration on November 9.
Christmas 1949 Princess Elisabeth spent in Malta
For the Christmas holidays in her second year of marriage, Princess Elizabeth travelled by train and ship to Malta. Prince Charles celebrated his second Christmas with Grandma and Grandpa, King George VI and the Queen Mother. (Source Dr. Piers Brendon, Royal Historian)
After the birth of Princess Anne in August 1950, she and her sister Princess Margaret returned to Malta for the winter months. This was her last winter in the sun, for her father, King George VI, became seriously ill in 1951 and died on February 06, 1952. Her maid of honor Lady Pamela’s mother, Lady Mountbatten, described Elizabeth’s return: like putting a bird back into a very small cage. Lady Pemela Hicks wrote the memoir: Daughter of Empire.
Was Princess Elizabeth working in Malta?
Elizabeth is said to have worked for the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen Families Association (SSAFA) at the Auberge de Castile. Princess Elizabeth, as Queen Elizabeth II, became the Patron of SSAFA (Patron of SSAFA), a charity of the Royal Armed Forces, from 1952. As a member of the royal family, her work at SSAFA was her second “civilian” job. During World War II, she trained as a mechanic with the Auxiliary Territorial Service. In 1945, she worked honorably with the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS). This also sets Queen Elizabeth apart: not only was she a participant in a Royal Scout troop and Sea Rangers (Sea Scouts). Princess Elizabeth is the first member of the royal family to serve full-time in the military.
Malta was part of the British Commonwealth of Nations until 1964. Princess Elizabeth thus became the Queen of Malta and head of the Commonwealth of Nations upon coronation.
Was Malta the first marital residence of Princess Elizabeth?
After the end of World War II, Prince Philip remained stationed in Malta with the Royal Navy’s Mediterranean Fleet. Princess Elizabeth visited her husband only for a few weeks to a maximum of 4 months during her visits to Malta. In total, she lived in Malta four times in the two years. Prince Charles was born in 1948, a few years later Princess Anne. Her father King George VI. reigned. Villa Guardamangia in Pietà is considered the first joint and marital residence. The first weeks, the couple lived briefly at San Anton Palace in Attard, the official residence of the British governor of Malta. Since the departure of the British, San Anton Palace (Maltese: Palazz ta’ San Anton) is the residence of the President of the Republic of Malta. Prince Charles was not seen in Malta during his first 5 years.
How big was the Villa Guardamangia?
According to publicly available data, the palazzo-style Villa Guardamangia has a total area of 1,560 sqm. The garden with fountain has an area of 930 sqm. This leaves for
- living room,
- dining room,
- six bedrooms,
- three bathrooms,
- 2 garages,
- Air raid shelter
630 sqm on two floors with sea view.
Did Princess Elisabeth have employees at the Villa Guardamangia?
There are no publicly available sources on the number and activities of the employees. One of the first employees was their personal driver and handyman, Chief Petty Officer Herbert H. Hicks. A reader of this page informed us that her grandmother worked as a cook for Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip. Other employees included Lady-in-waiting Alice Egerton, her detective, Inspector Alec Usher, her valet Pearce, her maid and former nanny Margaret “Bobo” MacDonald, and Prince Philip’s valet John Dean.
What is the history of Villa Guardamangia?
The building was one of the first buildings after the victory against the Ottomans to be built outside the fortification walls of a fort or Valletta. The property is located near St. Luke’s Hospital, built by a Spanish knight. A priest lived there until about 1814, before the property and its 900 square metre garden passed to the family of Sir Augustus Bartolo. He gave the farmhouse the name Casa Medina. How Lord Louis Mountbatten came to own Casa Medina when or if it was sold, is disputed. The Times of Malta writes that Casa Medina was bought by Lord Mountbatten as early as 1929 and owned until the 1950s. Other sources think that the publisher and politician Joseph Schembri bought the Villa Guardamangia in the 1940s. Then Joseph Schembri would have rented the villa to Lord Louis Mountbatten until 1954. Everyone agrees: his nephew Prince Philip became Lord Mounbatten’s tenant for two years, whether as his subtenant or main tenant.
Can Villa Guardamangia in Pietà be visited?
Unfortunately, Villa Guardamangia received little attention from the Maltese government for decades. In general, Malta’s government has placed other priorities and given little importance to cultural heritage.
The Commonwealth Summit 2015 brings movement for cultural heritage
For the 2015 Commonwealth Summit, the theme of Villa Guardamangia called The Telegraph to the memory of the British and Maltese. At the end of 2019, the government bought the villa from co-owner and resident Marika Schembri and her siblings (source The Telegraph). She asked for circa €6 million through an estate agent, according to press reports. How much the state of Malta paid is not known. Probably less. Otherwise, the Maltese government would have bought earlier.
Queen Elisabeth is not allowed to visit Villa Guardamangia
Thus, on the 60th wedding anniversary of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip in 2007, there was a scandal. The owners’ association around Marika Schembri refused to allow the Queen to visit Villa Guardamangia for the diamond wedding. The owners certainly had good reasons for this. Since about 2020, the Villa Guardamangia can be visited. Possibly not at any time. In 2021 and also in 2022 some guided tours and at least one open day took place. The person in charge is Heritage Malta, Chief Operations Officer Kenneth Gambin.
What is the condition of Villa Guardamangia?
The condition of the Villa Guardamangia after Marika Schembri moved out with her siblings can be seen in the gallery. The brickwork is crumbling, the paint on the overpainted royal wallpaper is peeling, the shutters are falling apart, the iron fittings are rusting and weeds are overgrowing the garden. This is how someone leaves a house when the new owner is supposed to be annoyed. The government’s plan: the villa will be reconstructed and renovated by 2027. In 2022 there is not much to be seen of it. The European TV station RTL already wrote in 2020: Queen Villa is rotting away in Malta. A commission of experts estimates the costs of the “Villa Guardamangia Museum” at up to 10 million euros. Villa Guardamangia has the potential to be a major tourist attraction.
The owners did not seem interested in caring for their multi-million euro treasure and Maltese cultural asset. There was a suspicion that the owners’ association deliberately let the house fall into disrepair so that it could be sold most biddably to a developer for the construction of luxus apartments. Source: The Telegraph
What should Villa Guardamangia look like after restoration?
An exhibition is planned for the first floor of Villa Guardamangia. It will show the centuries of relationship between Malta and Britain, as well as the life of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip in Malta. The first floor of the museum will be historically reconstructed.
What traces did Queen Elizabeth II leave in Malta?
Queen Elizabeth visited Malta frequently. In 1967 she met with President Anthony Mamo. She attended a ceremony to dedicate a monument to British Admiral Sir Alexander Ball.
In 2007, Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in Malta. A great honor for Malta. They wanted to visit their (decayed) residence. As of 2022, the villa looks like it did after the Axis bombing raids around Germany. The owners’ association around Marika Schembri refused the request for a visit. For some people, one can only be ashamed. In 2015 Queen Elisabeth came to Malta for her last Commonwealth summit. She is also said to have asked for a visit for those days, which was also turned down. The villa is to serve the public as a museum after restoration.
The Queen her last participation in a Commonwealth meeting took place in Malta in 2015. The Commonwealth includes 56 voluntary, independent and equal countries with 2.5 billion people. The Commonwealth’s roots go back to the British Empire. Malta has been a member since 1964.
At Christmas 2015, Queen Elizabeth II remembered Malta in her Christmas message:
»In 1949, I spent Christmas in Malta as a newly-married naval wife. We have returned to that island over the years, including last month for a meeting of Commonwealth leaders, and this year I met another group of leaders: The Queen’s Young Leaders, an inspirational group, each of them a symbol of hope in their own Commonwealth communities.«
A memorial plaque in Valletta for the Queen Elizabeth
On the bridge in front of City Gate there is a commemorative plaque in honor of the visit of Queen Elizabeth II. She last visited Malta in November 2015. The plaque shows the stops along the way that Elizabeth II passed through Valletta in 2015.
Fancy a quiz on Queen Elizabeth in Malta?
FAQs - Do you have questions about the Queen's stay in Malta? We give you the answers!
Prince Philip and Princess Elisabeth first lived in San Anton Palace. Later they moved to Casa Guardamangia (Villa Guardamangia, previously Casa Medina). On an area of 1,560 square meters is the large townhouse in Pietà. The building, built in Baroque style in the 18th century, was inhabited by a priest after a Spanish Knight of Malta.
The villa Guardamangia with harbour and sea views was rented by Philip’s uncle, Lord Louis Mountbatten. During Prince Philip’s stationing on HMS Magpie, the married couple were allowed to live there. Rumour has it:
- Lord Mountbatten introduced the couple in 1939.
- Princess Elisabeth was immediately in love.
- The couple did not find each other until 1946.
Their common great-great-grandmother is Queen Victoria, and was raised by the Danish King Christian IX.
Malta was and is an independent, sovereign state. In 2004, Malta joined the EU. During the British occupation, Malta was considered a constitutional monarchy. Her official title: Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of her other realms and territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith
The Queen’s power was limited by the Maltese Constitution. During the occupation, Queen Elizabeth’s constitutional duties in Malta were mostly delegated to the Governor General. With the establishment of the Republic of Malta, the royal title for Malta ceased to exist.
The Queen visited Malta in 1954, 1967 and 1992. On 19 May 1992, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, together with President and former Captain of the Royal Malta Artillery Vincent Tabone, inaugurated the Malta Siege Bell Memorial in Valletta. She celebrated her 60th wedding anniversary with Prince Phillip in Malta in 2007. Her last Commonwealth visit took place in Valletta in 2015. With nine visits, Malta is one of the countries most visited by the Princess and Queen. Canada was also part of the Kingdom, tops the list of 120 countries with around 17 visits. The USA, Italy and Germany follow with five visits.
PrinPrince Charles was indeed born in 1948, perhaps even conceived in Malta. However, it did not seem common to fly around the world with a baby during that time. Nothing has been passed down that Prince Charles lived with his parents at Villa Guardamangia in Malta during the period until 1951. Prince Charles and his sister Princess Anne visited. The Royal Family, escorted by the Royal Navy, arrived in Grand Harbour on the Royal Yacht Britannia. King George VI died on February 6, 1952 at the age of 56.
Besides King Charles and Princess Anne, Queen Elizabeth gave birth to Prince Andrew and Prince Edward. Air Miles Andy was the Queen’s favourite son for a long time. Due to his many escapades, Prince Andrew relinquished his royal duties in 2019. With the indictment in an abuse scandal against Prince Andrew, as the boyfriend of multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein and publisher’s daughter Ghislaine Maxwell, he lost all military and royal titles.
Born on 10 March 1964, Prince Edward was for many years the unsuccessful head of a manufacturing company. The Earl of Wessex is married to Sophie Rhys-Jones, who spilled secrets about the royal family and British politicians to a fake sheikh (Sophiegate). It is not surprising that then Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Secretary of State Kim Howells said: “The royals are all a bit mad.” (British royal family as a bit bonkers).
Prince Edward performs royal duties with charities in the fields of youth, arts and sport, for example as Patron of the British Paralympic Association.
Builder was a Spanish knight of the Order of Malta after the victory over the Ottomans. The former farmhouse belonged to a priest until around 1814. In the early 1900s, Sir Augusto Bartolo rebuilt the city villa in its present form. The palazzo-style villa was named Casa Medina. In 1929, Lord Louis Mountbatten rented or bought Casa Medina, which had views of the sea as well as the racecourse and golf course. Other sources name the publisher and politician Joseph Schembri as the owner of Villa Guardamangia, and Lord Louis Mountbatten as a long-time tenant. After the renovation and associated return from the first-class hotel Phoenicia in Floriana, the property was renamed Villa Guardamangia. Before its sale to the government in 2019, Villa Guardamangia had belonged to the Ġużè and Marika Schembri family.
The Villa Guardamangia was bought from the siblings around Marika Schembri by Malta’s government in October 2019. The Government of Malta plans to convert it into a museum.
The Government of Malta declared Villa Guardamangia a national heritage site. Due to its architectural, cultural and historical value, it is classified as a category 2 (grading of the property). Grade 2 means: A building has historical and architectural value. Slight or moderate alteration of the building is possible.
And if you want to avoid the protection of monuments, you apply to the building authority for legalisation applications for more extensive alterations.
In 1949 Princess Elisabeth spent Christmas in Malta. On April 21, 1950, Elizabeth Alexandra Maria celebrated her 24th birthday in Malta. The diamond wedding of Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth also took place in Malta in 2007.
Elizabeth Alexandra Maria and her sister Margaret were the daughters of Elizabeth, called Queen Mum and Prince Albert (Bertie). They were the “us Four”. Prince Albert was the second-born son of King George V. His elder brother, King Edward VIII, abdicated before the coronation. So Elizabeth’s father Albert became the King of the UK as George VI. He died a few years after World War 2 at the age of 56. Queen Mum died at the age of 101 on 30 March 2002.
Prince Philip affectionately called his Queen Elizabeth Cabbage in her old age.
In the British monarchy, a king can make his wife queen. A queen, however, cannot make her prince king. Then he would be above the queen in rank. That is why Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark knew that he would become his wife’s subject after the death of King George VI. He renounced the titles Prince of Greece and Denmark before the wedding, and was made a prince by Queen Elizabeth II in 1957.