This week’s theme is V, for Valletta.
OK, I shouldn’t laugh.
Yes, I am a republican, and would like to see Australia cut its ties to the British monarchy.
But I admit, it’s puerile to snicker at this piccy of Queen Vicky with a pigeon pooping on her head.
Doesn’t stop me doing it, though 🙂
So why does Queen Victoria have a larger-than-life-size statue in the heart of Valletta? Especially in a plaza called “Republic Square”?
Well Malta has, as I mentioned, been under the control of great naval powers for millenia – and in 1814 it became the turn of the British.
Malta remained a part of the British Empire until there was no empire (effectively World War Two) and after – before becoming independent in 1964.
So Queen Victoria was Empress of Malta as well as Empress of India, and Australia, and lots of other places.
And hence there’s no surprise that she has a statue in her honour.
But why in Republic Square?
Well, initially there was a statue of Antonio Manoel de Vilhena, one of the more popular Grand Masters of the Knights of St John (effectively the ruler of Malta while it was run by the Knights Hospitaller order)
Then, on her 50th birthday, a statue of Queen Victoria was placed there – and the Treasury Plaza was renamed Queen’s Square (or Pjazza Regina).
Of course, after independence the square was renamed as Misrah ir-Repubblika (Republic Square) but as happens a lot, the official name isn’t always used and to many Vallettans, this remains Queen’s Square.
And Victoria remains on her stone throne, casting her stern but benign gaze across the open-air cafes that dot the square and the Maltese Pigeons that use her as a roost.