Inside Malta mansion where Queen and Philip spent ‘happiest years of life’

The Queen and Prince Philip's old mansion in Malta will be restored and turned into a museum to honour their time there.

Situated on the outskirts of the Mediterranean island's capital, Valletta, Villa Guardamangia, was a retreat for the royal couple at a time which is believed to have been one of the happiest periods of their lives.

As part of its restoration as a tourist attraction, the 18th-century limestone villa will showcase on the ground floor Malta's relationship with Britain which it gained independence from in 1964.

Beyond that, plans for the first floor suggest it will feature a reconstruction of how it looked when the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh called it home.

Between 1949 and 1951 when the couple were based there, Philip was serving on HMS Chequers with the Mediterranean Fleet.

The restoration is expected to take at least five years, the Mirror reports.

Heritage Malta – the country's national agency for museums, conservation practice and cultural heritage – is tasked with the job.

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After acquiring the mid-18th century building in June last year, Heritage Malta' is now in the preliminary stages of restoring it to its former glory .

Heritage Malta's chief operating officer, Kenneth Gambin, said there was "a feeling of sadness" on the island after Philip's death.

He said: "He was remembered fondly, because everyone knew that Malta had a special place in his heart.

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"People remain somewhat attached to him because they know that he remembered Malta fondly. He took every opportunity to come here again when he could."

The royal husband and wife's stay in Malta offered them their only real taste of life as a relatively ordinary couple before the Queen's ascension to the throne.

They had the freedom to enjoy parties, picnics and boat expeditions, and the princess was even able to take a trip to the hairdressers for the first time.

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The future Queen split her time between the island and England, where a young Prince of Wales remained with his grandparents, leaving Malta for a time in 1950 to give birth to Princess Anne.

The agency describes it as "a national treasure" and "a classic Baroque example of a summer palace".

It is thought Philip's uncle, Lord Louis Mountbatten – who was also once a tenant at the villa, introduced it to the royal couple.

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