Queen ends state visit to Malta with emotional farewell


The Queen paid an emotional farewell to Malta at the close of her three-day state visit.

Delivering her final speech of the tour, the Queen again spoke of her fondness for the island she once called home.

Greeted by the minister for justice, culture and local government, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh arrived at Heritage Malta in Kalkara to view a collection of Maltese artwork and crafts.

After being presented with a posy of red roses, the Queen and Prince Philip viewed a collection of paintings that are being restored by the cultural centre, including an oil painting of King George III by Maltese artist Gaetano Calleja which usually hangs at the Museum of Fine Arts.

"That's very clever," the Queen remarked as one of the curators explained the restoration process to her.

The Duke was given a private view of Malta's oldest collection of Shakespeare books, first editions which date back to the 17th century, while the Queen was given a tour of the centre's impressive collection of textiles which included several pairs of leather gloves from the 19th century and a traditional Maltese skirt.

She also viewed a replica of the lace Queen Victoria used to wear, which is hand made on the island and includes the daffodil, thistle and shamrock as well as the Maltese Cross and British Crown.

Outside the centre, the couple viewed a selection of Maltese crafts and listened to traditional Zaqq music which caught the Duke's ear.

The instrument, similar to bagpipes, is blown and made from the skin of a hollowed out baby goat.

The Duke stopped to chat to 23-year-old Francesco Sultana, who played the instrument, and was fascinated by the unusual music piece.

"The Duke said he's never seen an instrument made entirely out of an animal," Mr Sultana said.

"He asked if it was a goat and I told him yes it was. He looked pleasantly surprised and just to show him it was the entire animal I showed him the neck and rear end, which made him smile."

The Queen also used the visit to address the Maltese people and to look out at the harbour of Valletta.

The couple were photographed looking out over the harbour in 1949 and according to one of the island's restorers, Veronica Bonello, both were interested in the restoration programme.

"The Queen said the place was very special to them and the Duke remembered very well where the island had been bombed in the Second World War. I think they were very impressed with the restoration and they seemed very happy to be here."

The Maltese Armed Forces bid an official farewell to the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh with a Guard of Honour before the royal couple departed.

The armed forces band played both the Maltese and British national anthems followed by a medley of music including We'll Meet Again and White Cliffs Of Dover.