Astrid Vella said that the Queen had asked to see the property when she last visited Malta in 2007, but that the owners had reportedly refused. The row comes ahead of a royal visit to Malta later this year in November.
‘This villa not only has immense architectural value, but is the only property outside of the UK which the Queen has called home," says Ms Vella. ‘If the Queen asks to visit this property again, it shouldn't be in this state. We must save it.’ She argued that the government did not hesitate to acquire private property for road projects, and questioned whether roads were more precious than the country's heritage.
‘It is crucial to our heritage and our collective memory, and could really boost quality tourist numbers. Tourists are disgusted at how we treat our heritage.’
However, no one seems able to agree yet on who would foot the bill for any restoration, and the Queen's former home now appears to be in serious danger of being knocked down to make way for developers.
‘Surveys on the property have been carried out and restoration cost estimates have been gathered,’ said the Maltese government in a statement. ‘The government has no title on the property and this has created legal complications with its owners.’
But the government said that it plans to expropriate the house, with full compensation to its owners, because it ‘believes that the property is one of historical heritage’.
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Picture Credit: Elizabeth and Philip 1953 by Cecil Beaton - Library and Archives Canada Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons, Valetta by User:Alexandra at lb.wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons