MALTA G.C.

Late 1940's going on early 1950's

and just another RA* living ashore with his wife in their married quarter!

* RA means Rationed Ashore, where instead of eating navy provided food on board, a man was given a cash allowance allowing him to purchase food ashore for cooking and consumption with his own close family group, in a service married quarter or a privately rented house ashore, unsupported by the navy, when married quarters were not avaiable.

Now,  who should we choose for an example?

Well let's start off with his privately rented home or his allocated married quarter.

But first take heed of the Commander-in-Chief's expressed warning to all men due to be appointed or drafted to the Mediterranean station, and by the way that is Malta as I write and not Gibraltar.  In times gone by it could have been in Egypt [Alexandria], or perhaps in Algeria [in Algiers], as these were our bases during that terribe war for Malta in particular.

In 1948 the then Commander in Chief Mediterranean, Admiral Sir Arthur Power, issued this general WARNING pan Royal Navy.

 THE_PLIGHT_OF_MALTA_ACCOMMODATION.docx

Notwithstanding that warning, I have chosen a commissioned officer to study so his quarter [if available] will be somewhat posh although for privately hired accommodation he takes his chances.

This officer, newly married on 20th November 1947 had served almost from the beginning of WW2 and by January 1940 he was a midshipman at sea. He saw much action in the Mediterranean at the Battle of Crete, Battle of Cape Matapan  and the invasion of Sicily serving in battleships down to small destroyers.  After service in the British Pacific Fleet [BPF] he was in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese surrender document was signed. In January 1946 he left the destroyer Whelp and was appointed to the PO's leadership school at HMS Royal Arthur Corsham Wiltshire. After his honeymoon he was appointed to a desk job in the Admiralty. Late in 1948 he was appointed as the first lieutenant of the destroyer HMS Chequers and moved to Malta with his wife, contrary to Admiral Power's warning on accommodation. In July 1950 he was promoted lieutenant commander and given the frigate HMS Magpie as the commanding officer: his active career in the navy finishing in July 1951.

By now you will of course have guessed who this officer was?

Yes of course this was HRH The Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh and his wife was HRH The Princess Elizabeth Duchess of Edinburgh.

Needless to say, and quite correct and in order too, they had a ready made married quarter waiting for them on arrival in Malta called the Villa Guaradmangia, which I trust and assume was in top order in 1949/51.  Being a life long royal devotee, the first thing I wanted to see on being drafted to Lascaris was the Villa and frankly I was shocked. In the six odd  years which had elapsed since the royal couple had said their sad farewell to Malta which by all accounts both of them liked and enjoyed the social life immensely, though when the Duke was at sea in his various ships, Princess Elizabeth often came home to London to support her parents in royal duties, with RAF Luqa [Malta] in demand one end and RAF Northolt [London] as a royal taxi service.  The Villa [by name only] formerly owned by Prince Philip's uncle Lord Louis Mountbatten, had degenerated into an unkempt building with paintwork literally hanging off in places especially around the front door and windows, the huge solid brass front door knockers last polished as they were leaving, stone work flaking off  and generally in great need of TLC. Seemingly the Maltese people [as so often was/is the case] were not interested in the building which didn't rate with my idea of a Villa [it had its own patch but no grand land room for resplendent gardens - no - none of that. It would have nevertheless made a splendid hotel with a million or so Maltese pounds thrown at it, but there were no takers, at least in my time on the Island 57-59 totalling 18 months in all. I am sure that it would have served as an excellent honeymoon suite in their time, but as a real estate chunk of property it wasn't considered as an international "former home of our future Queen" and that, in international terms,  is mind boggling!  Malta - keep on selling the sun and the "good life" but you are poles apart from what the jet-set desires in the sun, and  given that north, to the under belly of France, say Monaco for example, you are and will  always lose out to those who seek something unique and priceless.  AMEN.

This picture shows the Duke and Duchess on the roof of the villa and gives one a good idea where the building was. That's Marsamxett Harbour in the background. Notice how badly the stone balustrade has eroded.

From the roof of their Villa they would have had good views of all the shipping movement in Marsamxett Harbour.  They would have had a good view of the side of the capital facing Marsamxett Harbour, also Pieta and Floriana both pleasant areas. Originally the buildings behind them, tall and short would not have been there and their erection rather spoilt the view of the harbour.

 

By our standards, close to needing a new door and surrounding wood work and the poor old fish's [two doors] is crying out for a good clean and polish.

Truly not my idea of a villa.

A good pointer to the Duke's war service with many medals to show for it.

At least the door furniture is still there and hasn't been "lifted" !

 

In summary it is written that Lord Louis acquired the Villa for one reason, that to be near the many sporting attractions at Marsa an area very close and convenient. He was an accomplished sports man at golf, polo, and many other outdoor pursuits, and loved the entertainment value of the general area of Marsa. This is a modern map and it shows the golf course now named the royal club plus a large stadium with flood lights which has many pitches to cater for rugby, hockey, football and athletics. In Lord Louis's time it had a wonderful polo club and circuit and was frequented by many naval officers.

 

One has to assume that for this very special couple everything had to be just so, perfectly decorated and appointed with nothing out of place, literally fit for a Queen in waiting.  It beggars belief that in six short years it had been allowed to deteriorate so much in terms of fabric, stone structure and what grounds it did have, when to my mind it should have been maintained and marketed as the former home of so and so,  and with a proverbial blue plaque screwed to the wall by the front door. However, villa or not, it had been a farm house and whist built for the convenience of a farmer, and was in the wrong place to be considered 'grand' and security must have been a nightmare to try and afford this unique and grand couple the privacy they needed and deserved.   Good bye.