The Queen and Meghan Markle share a very special bond – their love of Malta.
Both women have strong links to our island.
Her Majesty, who also held the title Queen of Malta from 1964 to 1974, has had a soft spot for all things Maltese since she lived here for two years from 1949 to 1951.
As Princess Elizabeth, she stayed at Villa Guardamangia in Pieta when the Duke of Edinburgh was stationed in Malta with the Royal Navy.
Malta was truly a different world for the Princess.
She handled cash for the first time and enjoyed the novelty of driving around the Maltese countryside and visiting her local hairdressing salon in Hamrun.
Lady Pamela Hicks, one of The Queen’s bridesmaids, said: ‘The Queen really loved living in Malta because she was able to lead a normal life, wander through the towns and go shopping.
‘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.
‘They were magical days of endless picnics, sunbathing and waterskiing.
‘It was wonderful for her and it’s why they have such a nostalgia for Malta.’
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have returned to Malta several times since then – most recently in 1992 for a state visit, in 2007 for their diamond anniversary and in 2015 for the Commonwealth summit in Valletta.
The Queen has often told of her ‘special’ fondness of Malta, once describing her time on the island as ‘the happiest days of my life’.
In a speech in Kalkara in 2015, she said: ‘With each visit here I am reminded why Malta was awarded the George Cross in 1942 by my father, King George VI, for her valour – the first and only time it has been awarded to a country rather than an individual.
‘Since my first experience of Malta in 1949 as a young woman, I have seen this country evolve into a strong nation which plays an important role on the world stage.
‘When Prince Philip and I returned in November 2007 at the time of our Diamond Wedding Anniversary, we could not help but be impressed by the progress and the sense of optimism.’
Malta’s prime minister Joseph Muscat praised The Queen for her ‘passionate leadership’ of the Commonwealth.
In a speech at a VIP event in London last year he said: ‘As proud, independent nations, we look at your leadership of our family as a honour you are affording us.
‘What your father King George started, you have not only continued but also elevated to unprecedented levels.’
He also previously revealed The Queen keeps a keen interest in Maltese life, and had even poured over plans for Gozo’s new Barts Hospital with the Prime Minister.
During a visit to Valletta in 2018, Prince Charles spoke warmly of the Royal Family’s ‘deep and personal connection’ with Malta.
We all know Meghan is a big fan of Malta.
In 2015, she went on an emotional trip to Malta to learn more about her great-great grandmother Mary Bird, who was born in Valletta in the late 1880s.
At the time, she said: ‘Before I went, people were telling me, ‘When you go to Malta, everyone will look like you,’ and I started to say, ‘Oh my gosh I do sort of blend in’.
‘It’s the loveliest feeling. People in Malta have been so kind.’
During her visit to Malta, Meghan immersed herself in Maltese cuisine and apparently ‘adored’ pastizzi.
She spent her time wandering the stunning narrow streets of Mdina and touring landmarks such as St John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta and the iconic Azure Window in Gozo.