The Malta Independent 25 September 2022, Sunday
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End of an era

Ivan Grixti Friday, 16 September 2022, 08:41 Last update: about 3 days ago

The passing away of HM Queen Elizabeth II, just two days after appointing her 15th Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Liz Truss, symbolises an end of an era.

Having held office as Britain’s Head of State for 70 years (not to mention her role as Head of the Commonwealth), undoubtedly provides an overwhelmingly plethora of historical detail that will be conceptualised for years to come by many historians as they go about telling her story. Needless to say, it has triggered a lot of pomp and circumstance as the succession process endures and HM King Charles III takes over. One event which was televised publicly, unlike seventy years ago, was indeed the gathering of the privy council officially announcing the new king. However, the official coronation has yet to come!

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As the United Kingdom and for a significant extent, the world too, bids farewell to HM Queen Elizabeth II, I would like to share a few thoughts on the current debate as to whether or not to erect a monument in honour of HM Queen Elizabeth II who will be laid to rest alongside her long-time companion HRH Prince Philip, at St.George’s Chapel within Windsor Castle.

Whether we like it or not, Britain was our last foreign ruler for approximately 180 years. We have inherited plenty from the British, not less their model of accounting; Although, I have argued in my doctoral thesis that locally we would have been better off with the French plan comptable; yet, the notion of true and fair is here to stay! British influence is present throughout a number of musical societies situated within the Maltese archipelago that relate to the British Monarchy e.g. the King’s Own Band Club in Valletta. Even our national flag, justifiably, bears the George Cross, which was bestowed to our ancestors for their demonstration of gallantry throughout the dark years of the WWII by her dad, then King George VI.

It has been mentioned not only locally, but also on the international media, that Malta was the last country HM Queen Elizabeth II visited outside Britain. Moreover, she lived here for roughly two years (1949-1951) when then Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh was stationed in Malta assigned to HMS Magpie. They lived at Villa G’Mangia in Pietà – a property which has been acquired by the government in recent years and in respect of which an extensive restoration project is underway through Heritage Malta.

Rather than erecting some bronze monument fixed to the ground in some square around the island, Villa G’Mangia should be converted into a living memory of Queen Elizabeth’s reflection of Malta as ‘an isle of happy memories’. I have no doubt that those staff members at Heritage Malta entrusted with this project will execute a thoroughly thought project which will make justice to a foregone era. I am aware that Heritage Malta have made an open request for locals who have any memorabilia relating to the royal family to possibly donate it, and Heritage Malta will fetch an adequate place to display it after the extensive restoration is completed.

It would, however, be interesting if Heritage Malta carries out some oral histories with any surviving family members of those Maltese who had direct contact with then Princess Elizabeth and HRH Prince Philip. Moreover, now that Queen Elizabeth has left this valley of tears, maybe the government could make a special request to the Royal family for some of her memoirs relating to her stay in Malta to be donated to Heritage Malta for this specific project. Villa G’Mangia should become the iconic setting to educate future generations about the close connection of the British Monarchy with the George Cross island!

 

 

Ivan Grixti is a senior lecturer in Financial Accounting at the University of Malta

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