A UK documentary producer, whose grandfather served on the Santa Marija Convoy, is searching for unseen footage of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip during their stays in Malta, part of the largest global hunt for undiscovered film or photographs of the royal couple.
“Whenever the Queen talks about Malta, she talks about it as one of the happiest moments in her life,” says producer Emily Dalton, who is putting together the documentary on the royal couple for ITV, a UK television network.
“It’s the closest she had to a normal life. It was the last piece of her life when she was able to be herself – before the job took over. I feel this should be given absolute priority in this documentary.”
Malta is the only other place apart from the UK that Queen Elizabeth ever called home.
She lived on the island between 1949 and 1951, in the early years of her marriage to Prince Philip when he was stationed in Malta as a naval officer. They stayed mainly at Villa Guardamangia, Pietà, a property now being restored.
After that, the couple visited the island several times. Their first state visit was in 1954, about a year after the Queen’s coronation. Several other state visits followed in 1967, 1992, 2005, 2007 and 2015.
During her last visit, she was quoted as saying: “Visiting Malta is always very special for me. I remember happy days here with Prince Phillip when we were first married.”
Yet, Dalton notes, despite the years spent in Malta – with Prince Philip visiting even more frequently – the footage used in documentaries is always the same.
“There must be more. In that footage you see that everywhere the Queen goes she is filmed by members of the public. Imagine how much material there is of her out there that hasn’t been seen,” says Dalton.
This is why she is calling on anyone who possesses unseen footage or photographs of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip – together or separately – to come forward. The network is willing to pay for the licensing of the footage that will be used in the documentary.
Meanwhile, Dalton’s connection with Malta goes beyond work. Her maternal grandfather, Lord Terence Lewin, also spoke fondly of this mystical island.
“My grandfather served in Operation Pedestal and he talks about that as being a defining experience in his life. He always had a very strong attachment to the island,” she says, adding that he lived in Malta throughout the years.
Operation Pedestal, known locally as the Santa Marija convoy, was the biggest fleet of merchant ships and naval units sent to reinforce Malta during World War II. In August 1942, 14 merchant Navy ships were accompanied by the largest and most powerful escort the British fleet had ever assembled.
Only five of these ships eventually limped into Grand Harbour, rescuing Malta from starvation.
“When my grandfather was older, he was president of the George Cross Island Association and that became his big cause during his retirement that culminated with the unveiling of the Siege Bell Memorial,” she says, adding that, having grown up hearing these stories, the island always intrigued her.
She finally came for the first time in summer to work on two dramas.
“This connection with my grandfather, and now the royal family, has brought me to make this call to the people of Malta for this unseen footage. I also want to ensure that the collection of any footage is made available as a national resource for the Maltese.
“Everybody – search your attics. Look under your beds. Let’s get everything out into the daylight and see if there is anything to make a definitive collection, before the world moves on.”
If you have any photos or footage please email email@example.com with the subject ‘Royal pix’
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