The Queen's modest Malta villa where she was 'happiest' has been revealed

The Queen and Prince Philip lived in a seaside Malta villa in the early days of their marriage

The Queen's modest Malta villa where she was 'happiest' has been revealed
(Image credit: Alamy)

The Queen's villa in Malta has long been heralded as one of her favorite royal residences, and we can finally see why. 


The Queen has always been an emblem of English tradition, so it may come as a surprise to royal fans to discover that she hasn't always resided in her native country. 

That's right, Her Majesty has technically lived abroad, spending two years in Malta between 1949 and 1951 when Prince Philip was stationed there with the Royal Navy. The experience gave the young newlyweds the opportunity to adapt to married life away from the pressure of the UK media while still fulfilling their duties to the Crown—an extended working honeymoon, if you will. At the time of Philip's deployment, the then 23-year-old Princess Elizabeth alternated her time between the Mediterranean island and London, leaving a two-year-old Prince Charles to be babysat by his grandparents at Sandringham House during her trips. 

While this living situation was only temporary, it was still crucial that the accommodation was fit for a Queen. Her Majesty has always enjoyed luxurious surroundings, having lived in Clarence House and worked in Buckingham Palace. The villa, however, while comfortable, was surprisingly a lot more lowkey than her domestic dwellings back in Britain. 

VALLETTA, MALTA - NOVEMBER 26: The exterior of Villa Guardamangia is seen on November 26, 2015 in Valletta, Malta. The villa on the outskirts of Valletta and which has fallen into disrepair, is the only house outside the UK that a British monarch has resided in. The Queen lived at the property when her husband, The Duke of Edinburgh was stationed in Malta as a serving Royal Navy officer. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

(Image credit: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

The Queen resided in Villa Guardamangia on each of her visits to Malta, which would typically last several months at a time. Perched in a quiet hamlet on the edge of the capital city, Valletta, this 18th-century townhouse boasted all the perks of a palace without the superfluous bells and whistles of Britain's royal residences. The public has now been given a rare peek into the mysterious home, over fifty years since it was last occupied.

In an episode of Channel 4's Treasures of the World, historian Bethany Hughes treats viewers to an exciting tour of the iconic property. 

Now owned by the Maltese government, the derelict house is currently in the process of a major restoration so it can be sold to a private buyer or reopened as a tourist attraction. Its charm has inevitably been frayed after decades of neglect, but it's still possible to gain a feel for how it would have looked in the Queen's day.

Alamy

(Image credit: Alamy)

With its high ceilings and grandiose columns, it's easy to understand why Villa Guardamangia was chosen to house the royal couple during their time in Malta. Princess Elizabeth was given the keys to the building by Prince Philip's uncle, Lord Louis Mountbatten, and quickly fell in love with its homely features. 

The villa, with just two stories and a small garden, didn't exactly emulate the scale of her palatial London residence of Clarence House. It had just six bedrooms, three bathrooms, quarters for the couple's servants and staff, and a separate apartment for the Queen. What it lacked in size, however, it made up for in style. 

Guardamangia

(Image credit: Alamy)

Hughes takes royal fans on a journey back in time during the episode, inviting viewers to explore the home's spacious rooms and unique accents alongside her. In the Queen's old bedroom, a rusted fireplace—which was very uncommon for Malta interiors in the 1950s—can be spotted, while a broken toilet can be found in her once-immaculate bathroom. 

Alamy

(Image credit: Alamy)

"This is a corner where I feel I'm poking about a little bit too much," Hughes joked during the lavatory pit stop. 

Hughes also shows viewers the beautiful garden, where the Queen was known to entertain guests and enjoy a spot of horticulture. The house also boasts a number of large windows overlooking sea views—a perk notably absent from the landlocked UK residences of Hillsborough Castle or Balmoral Castle

Guardamangia

Prince Philip and Princess Elizabeth at Villa Guardamangia in November 1949

(Image credit: Alamy)

During the Queen's time in Malta, Prince Philip was often working as a lieutenant on the warship Chequers. Rather than isolate herself within the lavish villa, she kept busy by performing royal duties on the island and interacting with locals. It's even been said that the Queen, who famously does not carry money on her, made personal purchases with cash while she was in Malta. She returned to London permanently with Philip in 1951, after her father, King George VI, fell ill, but has continued to visit Malta throughout her reign. After leaving, she described her time in the country as "the happiest days of my life."

Emma Dooney
Emma Dooney

Emma is a news writer for woman&home and My Imperfect Life. She covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health or lifestyle story. When she's not reporting on the British monarchy and A-list celebs, you can find her whipping up vegan treats and running the roads to cheesy '90s pop music...but not at the same time, obviously.