The Maltese Islands and the United Kingdom share a long, rich history. Having formed part of the British Crown Colony from 1813 up until Independence Day in 1964 – a timespan that also covered two World Wars – Malta was often frequented by members of the British Royal Family.
It was the Duke of Edinburgh and Queen Elizabeth II, however, who were the first Royal couple to call Malta their home.
Throughout the years in which Malta was a Crown Colony, the British undoubtedly left a meaningful impact on the Maltese Islands and their people. The young Royals were also touched by the Islands in their own way, and a significant bond was created between the couple and Malta. In fact, the Royal pair – Prince Philip and Princess Elizabeth at the time – resided in Malta between 1949 and 1951, while Philip was stationed on the island as a naval officer.
Villa Guardamangia: A Royal Home on the Outskirts of Valletta
The Former Residence of Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth is called Villa Guardamangia (previously Casa Medina), an elegant seaside property, located on a narrow street in the town of Guardamangia, overlooking the Marsamxett Harbour.
In the early 19th century, at the start of the British period in Malta, the building originally belonged to a Catholic priest.
So how did it end up becoming home to the Royal Couple?
After being passed on from one well-known Maltese family to the next, the building was then leased out to Louis Mountbatten, a British Royal Navy officer and statesman and Prince Philip’s maternal uncle, in 1929.
The building’s proximity to the town of Marsa, where both a golf course and a horse racing track could be found, suited Mountbatten’s luxurious lifestyle and he eventually bought the Villa. During a visit to the Maltese Islands in 1946, Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth stayed at Villa Guardamangia for the first time, later returning to the charming residence on multiple occasions while Philip was stationed in Malta as a Royal Navy officer and Elizabeth worked with the SSAFA at the Auberge de Castille in Valletta.
The villa was officially passed on to the Royal couple and was the place they called home between 1949 and 1951.
The Prince and Princess brought their belongings with them over from their residence in England, enhancing the characteristically Maltese building – with its yellow limestone and secluded gardens – with their lavish tastes.
Describing her time in Malta, the Queen recalled her stay as one of the best periods of her life, during which she was able to live a normal life.
The Queen visited the beloved home she once shared with her husband during a state visit in 1992, and returned to Villa Guardamangia once again together with Prince Philip on the occasion of their 60th anniversary.
The Royal Couple pictured at Villa Guardamangia in 1949
Villa Guardamangia Today
Having fallen into a state of neglect, Villa Guardamangia was acquired by the national government and is currently undergoing restorative works by Heritage Malta to return the building to its former glory. Plans to re-open the Villa to the public are in the pipeline, but our team can also organise small group visits to get a glimpse of the site during the restoration process!
Interested in organising a small group tour of the former Royal residence? Get in touch by calling +356 2576 6000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org today!