Famous people have always had a thing for Malta…
We all know that Popes John-Paul II and Benedict XVI visited Malta, and that Queen Elizabeth II lived here for a while, but there are many other renowned names that had stepped onto the island!
Pope Alexander VII: The Inquisition in Malta lasted between 1561 and 1798, until Napoleon freed our ancestors from its clutches. Today, the Inquisitor’s Palace in Birgu is one of the last of its kind anywhere in the world, and between 1634 and 1639, it was the residence on Inquisitor Fabio Chigi, who would go on to become Pope Alexander VII.
Lord Byron: He’s known as one of Britain’s greatest poets and as a national hero in Greece thanks to his efforts in the Greek War of Independence against the Ottomans. He was also with the Shelleys when Mary got the idea to write her iconic gothic novel, Frankenstein. What many don’t know is that Lord Byron had visited Malta in 1809 and 1811. At the time, the best way to reach the heart of Valletta from near the docks was through a flight of steps – but between Byron’s limp and the hot, humid September weather, the feat was simply too much for Byron… In fact, he hated Valletta.
Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen: No, she’s not named after the capital city of South Australia; the capital city of South Australia is named after her! The queen consort of William IV of England and Hanover, Queen Adelaide lived in Malta for four months after the King’s demise. At the time, she was in Malta (the winter of 1838/39), Anglicans could worship in a room at the Grand Master’s Palace, but there wasn’t enough room for everyone. It was for this reason that Queen Adelaide decided to pay for the construction of the Anglican Pro-Cathedral in Valletta out of her own pocket.
King Edward VII: We all know that King George VI awarded Malta the George Cross. What few know is that King Edward VII – the best-travelled monarch ever at the time came to Malta in 1903, during which time he laid the foundation stone of the breakwater at the Grand Harbour.
Mikhail Gorbachev: The eighth and final leader of the Soviet Union is probably one of the most famous people in modern history and politics. Although many people who are over the age of 30 will remember this, many people who are younger have never heard that just a few weeks after the Fall of the Berlin Wall, Gorbachev came to Malta to meet with then-US President George H.W. Bush (the father of President George W. Bush). It was during this meeting that Gorbachev and Bush declared an end to the infamous Cold War.
Do you know of any other famous people who lived or visited Malta?