25 JULY 2007

Young and in love, the Queen and Prince Philip spent many months in Malta at the end of the Forties, making the most of a blissful period when they could live a relatively ordinary life as a young couple. So when they celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary later in the year, the royals will head back to the Mediterranean island where they spent so many happy times during the early days of their marriage.

The 81-year-old sovereign and the Duke of Edinburgh will stop off for what commentators describe as a "second honeymoon" on their way to the Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting in Uganda.

After marrying on November 20, 1947, the then Princess Elizabeth and her dashing naval officer husband spent several periods living in Malta up until 1951, while Philip was on duty with the Royal Navy Mediterranean Fleet.

Buckingham Palace refers to this year's trip as a "private visit" at the invitation of the government. Despite being extremely well-travelled, the Queen never usually holidays abroad. And, significantly, no official engagements will take place, giving the royal pair an opportunity to visit all their old haunts.

In the past the monarch has spoken of her "deep affection" for the country where she had a chance to enjoy everyday pleasures like driving herself to the shops. Home for the young Princess and the Duke of Edinburgh was a house named the Villa Guardamangia, and they danced many a night away in the ballroom of the Hotel Meridien Phoenicia in the capital Valletta.

Photo: © Alphapress.com
The Queen will spend her diamond wedding anniversary in Malta, where she lived a relatively normal life as a naval wife while her husband Philip was stationed therePhoto: © Getty ImagesClick on photo to enlarge