(Adds government statement)
The large villa that Queen Elizabeth had lived in during her stay in Malta is falling to pieces and should be restored before her visit later this year, environmental NGO Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar said.
The house, Villa Guardamangia, is a late baroque building which has been left to dilapidate by its owners, the NGO said, as it insisted the property should be saved.
At various times between 1946 and 1953, the then Princess Elizabeth had stayed at the villa while her fiancé, and later husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, who was stationed in Malta as a serving Royal Navy officer.
Philip and Elizabeth lived in Malta for a period between 1949 and 1951, the only time that a British monarch lived outside of the UK.
Addressing a press conference outside the large house, situated near St Luke’s Hospital, FAA spokeswoman Astrid Vella said Queen Elizabeth had actually asked to visit the property when she last visited Malta, however this request was turned down by the owner.
Ms Vella made an urgent appeal to the government to intervene and ensure that the property is salvaged before her Royal Majesty’s visit during the CHOGM event in November.
Ms Vella extended her appeal to other buildings of national heritage significance, which she said were often “intentionally” allowed to fall into disrepair by owners.
She said the planning authority was legally obliged to enforce restoration of scheduled buildings, such as Villa Guardamangia. If owners did not comply, the authority was also obliged to undertake restoration works itself and bill owners.
“Every time we lose one of these properties to a block of apartments, we lose a gem,” she said.
Government embarked on process to restore property 'long ago'
In a statement this afternoon, the government said it had embarked on a process to restore the property "a long time ago".
Surveys had been carried out and cost estimates collected.
However, the villa was private property on which the government had no title. This created legal complications even with the owners.
The government said it had also embarked on an expropriation process to acquire the villa giving reasonable compensation because it believed the property was of historical heritage.
It said it was a shame that certain statements made during the news conference giving the impression that nothing was being done.
Had the FAA verified the facts, it said, it would have been given the correct information, it said.
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