The Government is conducting ongoing negotiations with the owners of Villa Gwardamangia to acquire this property from private ownership.
This was stated by the Minister for Justice and Local Councils, Owen Bonnici, when replying to a supplementary Parliamentary Question by Nationalist Party MP Beppe Fenech Adami. This followed media reports the property was being advertised as being for sale.
Minister Bonnici said the Government’s interest in purchasing the property was its connection with Maltese history. Villa Gwardamangia was the private residence of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II when she was still a Princess and married Prince Philip who in the late 1940s and early 1950s was stationed in Malta with the Royal Navy. While stating the villa had more than one owner, the Minister said these had the right to sell to whoever they want. The building is under protected schedule in the second scale because of its historical importance.
In an answer to a further supplementary question, Minister Bonnici said the educational, scientific and cultural branch of the United Nations, UNESCO, is considering Malta’s request that the Maltese ‘ftira’ be declared as the first example of an intangible Maltese cultural heritage. He said Malta had become enabled to make this request after approving the UN Convention on intangible heritage. He said such recognition if accorded will also acknowledge the required trade and skill of manufacture.
Minister Bonnici was replying to a supplementary question made by Labour MP Byron Camilleri. In another reply, Minister Bonnici said the Government is working to establish a foundation, together with the Church and the University, for the cultural management of the old University building in Valletta, as well as the Jesuit Church housed in the same building. While stating the external facade restoration work had cost €1.5 million, he said the foundation would be expected to make this a cultural, tourist attraction.