Between 1949 to 1951, a young princess Elizabeth made Malta her home at the age of 23 while her husband was stationed on the island with the navy. Living in an 18th century house just outside the city of Valletta, the newly weds were able to lead at relatively normal life. The Queen was able to wander the streets and visit the shops fairly freely and this time it is said to be some of the happiest years of her life.
The next time Queen Elizabeth II visited Malta, it was as a newly-crowned Queen during her first Commonwealth tour. It was towards the end of an almost six months trip, which still holds the record for the longest royal tour ever. So you can only imagine how happy the Queen would have been to be reunited with her children. It was in Valletta that Prince Charles and Princess Anne joined their parents on the final part of the Commonwealth tour and it was the first time both children had ever travelled abroad.
In November 2007, the royal couple visited the island again, this time with 60 years of married life under their belts. Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh took to Valletta’s Upper Barrakka Gardens where they waved to the crowds. The Queen later planted a tree in the gardens to commemorate the diamond anniversary.
In 2015, Queen Elizabeth II and her husband visited Malta for the last time on what would be their last ever trip abroad together. On this visit, the Queen said: “Visiting Malta is always very special for me…I remember happy days here with Prince Philip when we were first married.”
5 places the Queen visited in Malta
1. The Upper Barrakka Gardens
The Queen and Philip lived just outside of the capital in those early years of her marriage and without the security she would have for the rest of her life, she was able to roam the cobbled streets of the ancient capital relatively freely. One place in the capital that was particularly special to the Queen was the Upper Barrakka Gardens where she celebrated her diamond wedding anniversary with a garden party. The Upper Barrakka Gardens are free and open to visitors, and offer spectacular views across the Three Cities and the harbour. Look out for the tree that was planted here by Queen Elizabeth II in 2007.
2. St John's Co Cathedral
During her 1967 visit, the Queen toured the St John’s Co Cathedral. The building is a real highlight of any visit to Valletta, and the gilded interior dazzles with detail and art. The most famous painting is Caravaggio’s The Beheading of St. John the Baptist which hangs alongside other pieces of his work, and an interactive exhibit where you can learn more about his life.
Queen Elizabeth II visited Mdina on her 1949 visit when she was met by the Archbishop Michael Gonzi for a tour of Mdina Cathedral. Situated on a hill in the middle of the island, a visit to this city with its ochre-hued walls, tunnels and bridges is like going back to medieval times. Follow in the Queen’s footsteps and visit the St Paul’s Cathedral which was rebuilt in the baroque-style in the early 1700s after an earthquake destroyed the original. Next, head to the Fontanella Tea Garden for great views over the city.
The 1967 visit to Malta saw Queen Elizabeth II attend a rally for school children in Floriana. The pretty fortified town just outside the capital is well worth exploring on foot to walk past the Christ the King Monument, the Independence Monument, the beautiful Argotti Botanical Gardens and St Publius Church and Sarria Church.
Queen Elizabeth II didn’t just stay on the main island of Malta but set sail for the island of Gozo, too. The first time she visited was as a princess in 1951 to unveil a plaque at the island’s hospital. She also visited the village of Ta’ Sannat and Ta’ Ċenċ. In 1954, Queen Elizabeth II went to Gozo again, this time to unveil the monument if Christ the King in Independence Square in Victoria. In 1992, she toured the Gozo Cathedral.