Villa Guardamangia is a classic example of an 18th century Maltese country summer house; one of the very first to be built in this area of the harbour. Until 1810 the building and surrounding land was owned by the Spanish cleric Carlo Oleades, who then sold it to Fra Vincenzo Carbone, a member of the Order of St John. Carbone eventually sold it to three Maltese gentlemen who divided the property between themselves in 1814. In dire need of restoration, it is best known for having served as the only permanent residence outside the United Kingdom which Queen Elizabeth II has ever had, when she lived as a princess with her husband Prince Philip between 1949 and 1951.
Lord Louis Mountbatten rented and moved into the property in December 1948, following extensive works. In 1949 it was bought by Joseph Schembri, one of the island’s foremost businessmen and a member of parliament with the Malta Labour Party. It remained within the Schembri family until it was sold in 2018.
While serving in Malta, Prince Philip, husband of Princess Elizabeth was an officer of the Royal Navy, first lieutenant on HMS Chequers and captain of HMS Magpie. Villa Guardamangia is the only known place outside Great Britain in which an heir to the throne of the United Kingdom has resided, and the only place which the queen has described as ‘home’, since here she could lead a ‘normal’ life without the burden of official duties. Since then the royal couple always referred to their stay in Malta in nostalgic terms.
Villa Guardamangia therefore represents the close relationship between Great Britain and Malta in the past 200 years or so. It was purchased by the Government of Malta and formally entrusted to Heritage Malta in June 2020.
49, Villa Guardamangia, Pietà, Malta
49, Villa Guardamangia,
Guardamangia Hill, Pietà PTA 1315,
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Heritage Malta kick-started the required preparations for the eventual restoration of the site. Emergency structural consolidation interventions focusing on the stability of two sections of the façade over Guardamangia Hill were carried out. The overgrown garden was cleared, while the property was cleared from great quantities of unwanted material. Historical research is underway to understand the travailed history and development of the property since the mid-18th century, data loggers were installed to provide important environment data in order to guide future decisions, some furniture items were removed from the site for fumigation and the required conservation process so that they are ready when required. Beams have been tested and wall paintings uncovered.
It will cost approximately €10 million. Major works are planned to start in 2022 and expected to take at least 5 years.
The ground floor will host general visitor amenities and a display focusing on the relations between Malta and Britain through the ages, interpreting the general context of why Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip came to Malta in 1949. The first floor will be historically reconstructed as it was when the royal couple resided in it in the mid 20th century. The focus of the display will be on the royal couple’s human experience of Malta.
We’ll be glad to know if you have any information, object, photograph or memories of when the royal couple resided in Malta. Please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org