Today, the 21st September marks one of Malta’s five national holidays, and it marks the day Malta gained independence after 150 years of British rule, and we have found two retro-ific videos which show exactly what went on 56 years ago, including Prince Philip handing over the Constitutional Instruments to then PM Borg Olivier.
After a long history of rulers, the British rule, which left its mark on our country, up until this very day, was the cherry on the cake! In fact, Malta’s long list of rulers include the Phoenicians, the Romans, the Greeks, the Arabs, the Normans, Sicilians, Swabians, Aragonese, the Knights of St John, the French for two restless years and finally the British for over 150 years.
The early years of the 20th century saw Malta manifesting its own sense of identity and an overwhelming willingness to stand on its own two feet, for the first time ever.
After Britain granted Malta self-governance in the aftermath of the island’s bravery and loyalty to the crown during World War II, the movement for independence continued to grow.
To be exact, two main options emerged, either full integration with the United Kingdom or, self-determination (independence) with the same “dominion status” that Canada, Australia and New Zealand enjoyed.
A ‘UK Integration Referendum’ was held on the 11th and 12th February 1956, in which 77.02% of voters were in favour of the proposal, but owing to a boycott by the Nationalist Party and the Church, only 59.1% of the electorate voted, thereby rendering the result inconclusive.
With this the government of the islands sought for complete independence from the United Kingdom which was eventually granted on 21 September 1964, 10 years later the islands became a republic.
Despite this, the British legacy is still strong in Malta, from the language to the old-fashioned red phone- and letter-boxes, now a rare reminder of times gone by.
Happy Independence Day Malta!