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Queen ends state visit to Malta with emotional farewell

Published 28/11/2015

Queen Elizabeth II is greeted as she arrives for a visit to Malta Racing Club at Marsa racecourse near Valetta, Malta. PA
Queen Elizabeth II is greeted as she arrives for a visit to Malta Racing Club at Marsa racecourse near Valetta, Malta. PA
Queen Elizabeth II attends a prize giving ceremony with the President of Malta Marie Louise Coleiro Preca on a visit to Malta Racing Club at Marsa racecourse near Valetta, Malta. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 28, 2015. See PA story ROYAL Malta. Photo credit should read: Matt Cardy/PA Wire
Queen Elizabeth II arrives for a visit to Malta Racing Club at Marsa racecourse near Valetta, Malta. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 28, 2015. See PA story ROYAL Malta. Photo credit should read: Matt Cardy/PA Wire
Queen Elizabeth II visits Marsa racecourse in the outskirts of Valletta, Malta. PA
VALLETTA, MALTA - NOVEMBER 28: Queen Elizabeth II waves to British Royal Navy crew members performing a salute on the HMS Bulwark amphibious assault ship during a tour of the Grand Harbour in a traditional Maltese fishing boat, with the HMS Bulwark amphibious assault ship seen in the background on November 28, 2015 in Valletta, Malta. Queen Elizabeth II, The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall are in Malta on the final day of a visit to the island that has been hosting the Commonwealth Heads of State Summit. (Photo by Toby Melville - Pool/Getty Images)
MDINA MALTA - NOVEMBER 28: A pair of Maltese army security soldiers on rooftops, as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh depart for home from Luqa airport on November 28, 2015 in Mdina, Malta. Queen Elizabeth II, The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall are in Malta on the final day of a visit to the island that has been hosting the Commonwealth Heads of State Summit. (Photo by John Stillwell - Pool/Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II attends the traditional CHOGM dinner at the Corinthia Palace Hotel in Attard, Malta

The Queen paid an emotional farewell to Malta at the close of her three-day state visit.

Delivering her final speech of the tour, the Queen again spoke of her fondness for the island she once called home.

Queen Elizabeth II visits Marsa racecourse in the outskirts of Valletta, Malta. PA
Queen Elizabeth II visits Marsa racecourse in the outskirts of Valletta, Malta. PA
A pair of Maltese army security soldiers on rooftops (Photo by John Stillwell - Pool/Getty Images)
A pair of Maltese army security soldiers on rooftops (Photo by John Stillwell - Pool/Getty Images)

Greeted by the minister for justice, culture and local government, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh arrived at Heritage Malta in Kalkara to view a collection of Maltese artwork and crafts.

After being presented with a posy of red roses, the Queen and Prince Philip viewed a collection of paintings that are being restored by the cultural centre, including an oil painting of King George III by Maltese artist Gaetano Calleja which usually hangs at the Museum of Fine Arts.

"That's very clever," the Queen remarked as one of the curators explained the restoration process to her.

The Duke was given a private view of Malta's oldest collection of Shakespeare books, first editions which date back to the 17th century, while the Queen was given a tour of the centre's impressive collection of textiles which included several pairs of leather gloves from the 19th century and a traditional Maltese skirt.

She also viewed a replica of the lace Queen Victoria used to wear, which is hand made on the island and includes the daffodil, thistle and shamrock as well as the Maltese Cross and British Crown.

Outside the centre, the couple viewed a selection of Maltese crafts and listened to traditional Zaqq music which caught the Duke's ear.

The instrument, similar to bagpipes, is blown and made from the skin of a hollowed out baby goat.

The Duke stopped to chat to 23-year-old Francesco Sultana, who played the instrument, and was fascinated by the unusual music piece.

Queen Elizabeth II attends a prize giving ceremony with the President of Malta Marie Louise Coleiro Preca on a visit to Malta Racing Club at Marsa racecourse near Valetta, Malta. PA
Queen Elizabeth II attends a prize giving ceremony with the President of Malta Marie Louise Coleiro Preca on a visit to Malta Racing Club at Marsa racecourse near Valetta, Malta. PA

"The Duke said he's never seen an instrument made entirely out of an animal," Mr Sultana said.

"He asked if it was a goat and I told him yes it was. He looked pleasantly surprised and just to show him it was the entire animal I showed him the neck and rear end, which made him smile."

The Queen also used the visit to address the Maltese people and to look out at the harbour of Valletta.

Queen Elizabeth II waves to British Royal Navy crew members performing a salute on the HMS Bulwark amphibious assault ship(Photo by Toby Melville - Pool/Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II waves to British Royal Navy crew members performing a salute on the HMS Bulwark amphibious assault ship(Photo by Toby Melville - Pool/Getty Images)

The couple were photographed looking out over the harbour in 1949 and according to one of the island's restorers, Veronica Bonello, both were interested in the restoration programme.

"The Queen said the place was very special to them and the Duke remembered very well where the island had been bombed in the Second World War. I think they were very impressed with the restoration and they seemed very happy to be here."

The Maltese Armed Forces bid an official farewell to the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh with a Guard of Honour before the royal couple departed.

The armed forces band played both the Maltese and British national anthems followed by a medley of music including We'll Meet Again and White Cliffs Of Dover.

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