The Queen is to pay a visit to Malta later this year, during which she will attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, it has been announced. Along with the Duke of Edinburgh, The Queen will be joined by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall who travelled to Sri Lanka in 2013 for the previous CHOGM.
Her Majesty will spend several days in the country, during the time the Heads of Government meeting takes place in the city of Valletta – Malta’s capital city – from 27 to 29 November.
The announcement that The Queen will attend this year’s CHOGM will come as a surprise to many. At the last meeting in 2013, Prince Charles represented The Queen in Sri Lanka and some believed it was because the Monarch was curtailing her overseas travel.
It is also the second such overseas visit that has been announced so far this year, with The Queen also set to make a state visit to Germany during June. The visit to Malta, though on a formal footing, has not been described by the Palace as a ‘state visit’ however.
During the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, prime ministers and presidents of each of the Commonwealth countries meet in one of the member states to discuss important issues relating to the Commonwealth and also discuss issues relating to the Monarchy. Of the 53 Commonwealth member states, 16 retain The Queen as Head of State including the UK. These ‘Commonwealth realms’, as they are known, also include Australia, Canada and New Zealand among others.
One of its most prominent decisions to date relating to the Monarchy was back in 2011 when members gave their assent to changes which would see the royal succession laws updated to allow females equal rights to succeed where previously an elder daughter may only succeed her father where she had no brothers.
The Queen has attended every CHOGM since 1973 although her formal participation only began in 1997.
She last visited Malta in 2007, during the year of her Diamond wedding anniversary. After her marriage to the Duke of Edinburgh in 1947, she and the Duke lived on the island whilst he worked as a Naval officer. During her time living in Malta, The Queen – then Princess Elizabeth – lived what was described as a ‘fairly ordinary life’ just like that of any other naval officer’s wife living on the island at the time, and was involved in community life on the island.
Since her accession to the throne, The Queen has visited the island four times on formal visits including back in 2005 when the island nation hosted its last Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.
This year, it’s announced that the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall will also attend the meeting “in support of The Queen”. They attended the 2013 meeting in Sri Lanka alone last time.
More details of the visit and the royal attendance at CHOGM will be announced in due course, Buckingham Palace say.
The announcement was made in coincidence with Commonwealth day. The Queen will attend Commonwealth Observance later this afternoon at Westminster Abbey along with other members of the Royal Family.
Photo credit: Michael Garnett