Queen Elizabeth saw Malta as ‘magical’ home abroad

Queen 'was put back in cage after Malta trip' says Hicks

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Queen Elizabeth II travelled around the world during her reign, both representing the UK abroad and for leisure purposes. Yet it was during her early years of marriage to the late Prince Philip that she spent some “magical” years in Malta, solidifying the Mediterranean island as a home away from home.

In October 1949 Prince Philip was sent to the British naval base on Malta, where he was promoted to lieutenant commander and took charge of his first ship HMS Magpie.

At this time, the Queen had not yet ascended to the throne and was able to join Prince Philip for some time.

This meant she was free to join Charles in Malta, and enjoy some relaxation and newfound “freedom”.

Speaking in the documentary The Royal House of Windsor author Phillip Eade said: “She could for the first time do more or less what she wanted.

“She could be like a normal young woman. She could go to the hairdresser on her own.

“She could drive around the island. She could go to restaurants with her husband, go on picnics, and all the while the Maltese people left them alone. “And so Malta, for her, represented a great feeling of freedom.”

One of her longest stints spent in Malta was for 11 weeks.

Lady Pamela Hicks, who was a close confidante of the royal, once said in an interview with MailOnline: “They were magical days of endless picnics, sunbathing and waterskiing.

“The Princess really loved Malta because she was able to lead a normal life, wander through the town and do some shopping.”

She added: “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.”

Like any young couple, Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth enjoyed socialising and having a dance.

In her book Prince Philip Revealed: A Man of His Century author Ingrid Seward quotes another Lady Abel Smith, one of Elizabeth’s ladies-in-waiting: “There were some very wild parties with spoons and buns being thrown, though luckily not butter. She was amazed by the spoons though.”

The author added: “Apparently when the games became too boisterous, Philip would lift his wife on to the piano together with ladies-in-waiting to keep them out of the firing line.”

The book also includes excerpts from letters Lord Mountbatten, Prince Philip’s uncle, wrote to his daughter Lady Pamela Hicks.

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In these, he details Queen Elizabeth’s love of twirling on the dance floor.

He wrote: “She dances quite divinely and always wanted to Samba when we danced together and has said some very nice things about my dancing.”

Sadly, the “magical” days were soon to come to an end.

As Elizabeth’s father grew increasingly ill, she and her husband were forced to return to England to undertake important duties.

Philip retired from active naval appointments in July 1951, leaving the Royal Navy “on indefinite leave”.

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