In the early years of their marriage the Queen and Prince Philip lived in Malta between 1949 and 1951 at Villa Guardamangia, owned by Philip’s uncle Lord Mountbatten.
The duke was stationed there as a naval officer and was made second in command of HMS Chequers, operating from Malta with the Mediterranean fleet.
The property offered the newlyweds more than just a Mediterranean base, as Malta gave them their only taste of real life and a place where no one gave them any grief.
It is the only place outside of the UK that Queen Elizabeth has called home.
Lady Pamela Hicks, one of the Queen’s bridesmaids, said: “The Queen really loved living in Malta because she was able to lead a normal life, wander through the towns and go shopping.
“It was the only place that she was able to live the life of a naval officer’s wife, just like all the other wives.
“They were magical days of endless picnics, sunbathing and water skiing.
“It was wonderful for her and it’s why they have such nostalgia for Malta.”
The Queen divided her time between England, where her son Prince Charles was staying with his grandparents, and Malta.
Elizabeth’s magical and carefree time in Malta allowed her to handle cash for the first time, drive through the narrow streets, and dance with Prince Philip in the ballroom of Hotel Meridien Phoenicia.
While Philip was on board Chequers, Elizabeth hosted tea parties and visited the local salon.
However, by 1951 King George’s health was deteriorating rapidly, which ended the couple’s relatively normal life.
Prince Philip left the Royal Navy on ‘indefinite leave’ in July 1951, ending his military career to stand by Elizabeth.
After battling a long illness King George died on February 6, 1952, suddenly elevating Elizabeth to Queen.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh’s love affair with Malta did not end there, however, and they returned several times.
In 2007 the couple celebrated their diamond anniversary in Malta, and most recently in 2015 they were there for the Commonwealth summit in Valletta.
During that 2015 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.”
During the trip former Maltese president Marie Louise Coleiro presented the couple with a watercolour of Villa Guardamangia.
For all of SWL’s Prince Philip coverage, click here.
Featured image credit: Continentaleurope via Wikipedia Commons