On Friday the Queen will take a walk down memory lane as she returns to one of her favourite countries in the world – Malta. Her Majesty used to live on the island for a brief period before her reign, when she was still Princess Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip was stationed there as a serving Royal Navy officer.
This weekend's trip will be a mix of business and pleasure for the 89-year-old monarch. She is due to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in the capital Valletta until Sunday.
The Queen and Prince Philip, 94, will be joined by their son Prince Charles and his wife the Duchess of Cornwall.
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The Queen once lived in Malta where "she was able to lead a normal life"
Every two years a meeting of the CHOGM is held at locations throughout the Commonwealth and this year Malta was chosen. The Queen usually attends, during which she has a series of private meetings with the Commonwealth countries' leaders.
A lavish reception and dinner are also held at which Her Majesty delivers a speech.
The royals enjoyed "magical days of endless picnics, sunbathing and waterskiing"
It's clear that Malta – the only foreign country where the Queen has ever lived – holds a special place in the monarch's heart. Just a couple of years after she married Prince Philip, her father King George VI encouraged his daughter to join her husband on the island. Philip had just been made First Lieutenant on HMS Chequers.
Arriving around the time of her second wedding anniversary with baby Prince Charles in tow, the then-Princess embraced her new life on the sunny isle.
The royal couple lived at Villa Guardamangia at various times between 1949 and 1951. The grand two-storey mansion was leased by Philip's relative Lord Louis Mountbatten.
The couple lived in the grand Villa Guardamangia with baby Prince Charles
Speaking in a rare interview Lord Mountbatten's daughter Lady Pamela, who acted as one of the Queen's bridesmaids, opened up about the royal's time on the island.
"They were magical days of endless picnics, sunbathing and waterskiing," Lady Pamela told Mail Online. "The Princess really loved Malta because she was able to lead a normal life, wander through the town and do some 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. It was wonderful for her and it's why they have such a nostalgia for Malta."
When the Queen and Prince Philip return this weekend, there's no doubt that their trip will revive golden memories of their idyllic island life.