The Queen's former home in Malta is set to be restored and opened as a tourist attraction, having been purchased by the Maltese government. Villa Guardamangia is very dear to the monarch, having served as a base for the then-Princess Elizabeth and her new husband, Prince Philip, is the early stages of their marriage. The palazzo-style mansion, which is located on the outskirts of the capital of Valletta, was a home to the royal couple between the years 1948 and 1951, while the Duke of Edinburgh served with the Royal Navy on HMS Chequers.
The then-Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip at their home in Malta
Elizabeth and Philip's time in Malta allowed them to escape the spotlight, and spend time together in relative normality. They were able to enjoy picnics, parties and boat trips – and the Princess even paid a visit to the hairdresser for the very first time. Between 1948 and 1951, Elizabeth split her time between England, where a young Prince Charles remained with his grandparents, and Malta, returning to the UK for some time in 1950 to give birth to the couple's daughter, Princess Anne.
The newly-weds pictured in the grounds of Villa Guardamangia
In 2015, the Queen spoke of her "deep affection" for the country she once called home. "Visiting Malta is always very special for me," she said. "I remember happy days here with Prince Philip when we were first married."
The six-bedroom property has fallen into disrepair in recent decades
The grand villa has sea views over Marsamxett Harbour from its roof terrace, and features an imposing wide-fronted facade and arched entrance hall, as well as a lounge, dining room, living room, kitchen, six bedrooms, three bathrooms, a grand "sala nobile" and two garages. It has fallen into disrepair in recent decades, and went on sale in June for 6.5million Euros (£5.6million). Prime Minister Joseph Muscat did not reveal what price the government paid, but said in parliament that the property would be restored and had the potential to become a huge tourist attraction.