October 23, 2019 / 9:07 AM / 21 days ago

Malta buys property Queen Elizabeth once called her home

FILE PHOTO: Villa Guardamangia is seen in Pieta, outside Valletta, Malta April 25, 2015. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi/File Photo

VALLETTA (Reuters) - The Maltese government has bought the only property outside Britain that Queen Elizabeth once called home, with plans to make it into a tourist attraction.

Villa Guardamangia, was her home in the first years of her marriage, before she became queen, when her husband the Duke of Edinburgh served as a Royal Navy officer in Malta between 1949 and 1951.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced the purchase of the property - 2 miles (3 km) from Malta’s capital - in parliament late on Tuesday, saying it would be restored and turned into a tourist attraction.

The villa has been in a state of disrepair and most of its contents have been sold. Its owners, a private family, had offered it for sale earlier this year for 6.5 million euros. Muscat did not disclose the final purchase price.

The queen has said that the time she spent living in the villa was the among happiest in her life.

The queen was driven past the villa during a visit to Malta in 1992 and she was presented with a painting of the building when she was in Malta again in 2015.

Villa Guardamangia, which has a large terrace and garden, was built in 1900 on top of a hill overlooking Malta’s second harbour of Marsamxett.

Reporting by Chris Sciculuna; Editing by Alison Williams

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