The Malta Independent 16 April 2024, Tuesday
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Prince Charles hails ‘deep, personal’ connection with Malta during George Cross commemoration

Helena Grech Wednesday, 4 October 2017, 16:30 Last update: about 8 years ago

Prince Charles spoke of the “deep and personal connection” his family holds for Malta.

He was addressing the 75th anniversary of the awarding of the George Cross to Malta, by his grandfather, King George VI. The medal - the UK's highest civilian award for bravery - was awarded to the Maltese people for the bravery shown during the Siege of Malta in World War II.

“By 1942, after almost two years of intense aerial bombardment, Malta was on the brink of surrender. Indeed between March and April of that year more bombs were dropped on Malta than on London during the entirety of the blitz.

“With strength of spirit, Malta’s valiant citizens held firm.” He bravely quoted a Maltese poem by one of the island’s foremost author and poet Oliver Friggieri in the native language, about how each stone on the island tells a tale of valiant people.

Prince Charles is the head of the George Cross Association, where he heard countless tales of bravery showing “defiance of those who would try to break their will”. He said that Malta’s tale stands out among the many tales heard over the year.

“It is a blessing that tonight we are surrounded by veterans and civilians who lived through the troubling invasion. Without their courage and determination Malta would not have become the thriving influence that it is today.

He hopes that when all Maltese look back on the accomplishment 75 years ago, and “all that was achieved after”, they would feel pride.

Prince Charles  spent part of his summer vacations from university in the early 1960s, whilst serving in the navy in the late 1970s. He said that he feels grateful to be on the island and celebrate this momentous achievement.

“It serves as a symbol of the profound gratitude in the UK, and across the commonwealth, of the sacrifice Malta made and the enduring relationship with the people of these ancient isles”.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that the George Cross has become a symbol synonymous with bravery and pride.

“Our forefathers were recognised for pushing forward, at time when it seemed impossible. They persisted and persevered even when giving up would have been much easier. What they believed in then is not very difficult from what we believe in now. We commemorate their ability to endure the conflict in the face of adversity”.

He said that the bond that unites Malta and the UK through the George Cross was etched when receiving the honour.

“We both gave up lives for each others’ survival, and this must not be forgotten”.

Muscat said that while times do change, “we should always be proud to hand down to the next generation the most valuable lesson. For Malta, one of these invaluable gifts is the pride of our nation. Our ethos to work hard for our family and country, and to give back when we can.”

He said that just like 75 years ago, Malta is proud to say that it has remained on the right side of history.

“Since then Malta has thrived as in independent and free nation, and promptly moved forward through EU accession. Malta has remained a committed partner to the Commonwealth of Nations”.

Muscat hailed the fast growing economy of Malta, ensuring further female participation in the labour market, and giving the LGBT community the rights it deserves.

He said the spirit of Malta’s bravery and perseverance is the same spirit “elevating us and preparing us for the next generation”. 

***

Earlier today

Prince Charles arrived in Malta today for a two-day visit during which he will be attending the ceremony for the 75th anniversary of Malta being awarded the George Cross.

The Prince of Wales began his trip with a visit to the Auberge de Castille, where he was greeted by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Mrs Muscat, and their two daughters.

He later visited St Paul’s Pro-Cathedral, whose restoration he is supporting.

This evening he will attend a ceremony marking the George Cross anniversary, while he is scheduled to deliver a keynote speech at the Our Ocean conference tomorrow.

Photos Baskal Mallia, Domenic Aquilina and DOI

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