Baron Gozo Blog

The special affection Queen Elizabeth II had for Malta

Posted on 17 September 2022

H. M. Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh at the ceremony of unveiling the Gozo war memorial at it-Tokk Square in Victoria Gozo. Photo: Ino Mario Borg via Facebook page Retro Gozo

The passing of HM Queen Elizabeth II after 70 years of steadfast duty to the people of Great Britain and the Commonwealth is a truly historic event. She is mourned with genuine feeling by millions around the globe. A symbol of stability and continuity, she was a constant presence in many people’s lives for seven decades and will be missed.

Here in Malta, her majesty’s death has been greeted with particular sadness. She was our Queen too and there was a strong bond of affection between the Queen and the Maltese people.

We thought we’d take a look at back at this special relationship to remember the Queen and her special link to Malta with respect and gratitude.


‘Happiest’ times on Malta

Princess Elizabeth married Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, on 20 November 1947, when she was 21 years old and he was 26. They would remain married for 73 years, until his death in 2021. Prince Philip had joined the Royal Navy after leaving Gordonstoun School in 1939, experienced active duty during the war and had risen quickly through the naval ranks.

In 1949 he was was stationed in Malta following his appointment as First Lieutenant of HMS Chequers - leader of the First Destroyer Flotilla in the Mediterranean Fleet. The princess joined him and they made the 18th century Villa Guardamangia on the outskirts of Valletta their home. The villa was owned by Prince Philip’s uncle, Lord Mountbatten.

By all accounts, the newly weds were very happy on Malta and were able to lead more or less ‘normal’ lives. The queen later described Malta as her own “isle of happy memories”. Here, Princess Elizabeth created a home, did her own shopping, and worked with the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) – a charity that supports serving men and women and veterans from the British Armed Forces. 


The Queen’s visits to Gozo


Wreath placed in front of the Queen Elizabeth II marble plaque installed at Ġużeppa Debrincat’s house. Photo: Sannt Local Council via Facebook

On 2 April 1951, towards the end of their residence on Malta, the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh made their first official visit to Gozo, Malta’s sister island. The Princess had been invited to unveil a plaque at what was then called Craig Hospital – now Gozo General Hospital.

During this visit, they also saw the new reservoir at Ta‘ Cenc and observed some women making lace at a house in Sannat. If you’ve passed through Sannat you may have seen the marble plaque commemorating the royal visit to Ġużeppa Debrincat’s house.

Princess Elizabeth became Queen in 1952 after her father, George VI died. Her coronation took place on 2 June 1953. Just under one year, later, on 7 May 1954, she visited Gozo again – this time as  Queen Elizabeth II – to unveil the war memorial in Victoria’s Independence Square.

Regular visitors to Gozo will know the monument well. It comprises a seven metre tall monument topped with a striking bronze statue of Christ The King. The Queen visited  Gozo next in 1967 when she laid the foundation stone of a new hospital and placed a wreath at the war memorial.


The royal couple in their open-top car during a day visit to Gozo in 1951. Picture taken next to Villa Rundle in Victoria. The photo was used in 2003 for a commemorative stamp (inset) marking the 50th anniversary of the Queen’s coronation. Photo by George Vella Muscat via


George Cross Island

There would be a gap of another 25 years until the Queen once again stepped ashore on Gozo on 30 May 1992. The Queen was visiting Malta to mark the 50th anniversary of one of Malta’s proudest moments.

On 15 April 1942 in the middle of the Second World War, the entire population of the Islands was awarded the George Cross for bravery by King George VI. Malta played a crucial strategic role for the Allies’ North African campaign and had been mercilessly targeted by enemy forces, suffering greatly but never giving in.

As puts it: “Malta holds the record for suffering the heaviest, sustained bombing attack of WW2 –154 days and nights and 6,700 tons of bombs. During the entire time, the island’s population of 270,000 were unerring in their refusal to capitulate.”

You can see the actual medal on display in the War Museum in Valetta as well as a copy of the King’s message: “To honour her brave people I award the George Cross to the Island Fortress of Malta, to bear witness to a heroism and a devotion that will long be famous in history.”

During her 1992 visit, the Queen spent a day on Gozo visiting various sites including a tour of Gozo Cathedral.


A 1992 photo of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip at the Gozo Cathedral visiting the revered statue of Santa Marija. Photo: Gozo Cathedral via


Continuing the royal connection


King Charles III. Photo: House of Lords 2022 / Photography by Annabel Moeller

While we mourn the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, we congratulate her son who is now King Charles III.

A young Prince Charles visited Gozo in July 1968. His itinerary included a tour of the Children’s Home run by the Dominican nuns of Lourdes in Għajnsielem. The Times of Malta reported that the nuns were “Perhaps the most excited group of people in Gozo yesterday.” We look forward to welcoming him back to Malta and Gozo.

Posted in Cultural activities, Heritage, Village life, What to see in Gozo

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