Charles in Malta: commemorating George Cross anniversary & attending Our Ocean conference

Prince Charles began a two-day trip to Malta yesterday, to attend a commemoration service for the 75th anniversary of the awarding of the George Cross in recognition of the island’s sacrifices during the Second World War.

Charles arrived at Valletta Airport and was driven to the grand Auberge de Castille, the office of the Prime Minister of Malta and the former site of the original 16th century base of the knights of the Order of Saint John. He was greeted by the Prime Minister Dr Joseph Muscat, Mrs Muscat, and their twin daughters, and signed the visitors’ book.

The Prince of Wales then visited St Paul’s Pro-Cathedral, the main Anglican church on the island which is close to Charles’ heart, so much so that he is contributing to its restoration. The Pro-Cathedral, one of three Anglican cathedrals in Europe, was built commissioned in 1839 when the Dowager Queen Adelaide visited Malta and found no place for Anglicans to worship. The first stone was laid by the Dowager, and her banner hangs above the choir stalls.

During the Second World War the Pro-Cathedral was badly damaged during German bombing raids, but was later fixed on the orders of a young Elizabeth on her first visit to the island as Queen, and the island where she once lived.

In the evening, Charles hosted a reception to commemorate the granting of the George Cross the Malta on 15 April 1942. To honour the sacrifices made by the Maltese people between 1940 and 1942, when Italian and German forces besieged the island almost constantly for two years, King George VI wrote a letter to the island saying: ‘The Governor, Malta. To honour the brave people I award the George Cross to the Island Fortress of Malta to bear witness to a heroism and devotion that will long be famous in history. George R.I.’

The Maltese people are rightly proud of the award, displaying it on the Maltese flag and all crests of public office across the island. The reception that Charles hosted will include local dignitaries, military officials, war veterans, and locals who lived on Malta during the siege. Charles is set to thank the islanders for their sacrifice and reiterate King George’s letter.

Before returning home today, the Prince will give a keynote speech at the Our Ocean conference, a conference highlighting the threats that global warming poses to small and low-lying island states, and the need to keep seas around the world clean.

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