The Queen unveiled a plaque in Malta to honour the spot where her late father King George VI embarked during the Second World War.
Yesterday 72 years on, she made the pilgrimage to where he landed in 1943 on a secret mission to award the island the George Cross for its bravery in holding out against a siege by the Axis powers.
Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh took a boat trip across Valletta’s Grand Harbour in a typical Maltese luzzu, or fishing boat, on their final day of an official state visit.
Wearing a bright turquoise A-line coat by Stewart Parvin and a matching hat by Angela Kelly, the Queen then unveiled the bronze tablet on Malta’s Commonwealth walkway.
The plaque, which has been in a museum vault for several years after being dug up during construction work, was restored to its rightful place for official visit.
It reads: ‘His Majesty King George VI landed here from HMS Aurora on 20th June 1943 shortly after the raising of the siege.’
The Queen has personally asked to see the stone tablet, which has now been given a permanent home on a pedestal inside the building.
HMS Bulwark, which was moored in the harbour to provide extra security during this week’s Commonwealth summit, fired a 21-gun salute as the royals crossed the water.
It was there to assist the Maltese in security for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting – which runs until today.
There leaders have been addressing global issues such as climate change, building resilience in small states, trade and sustainable development, the empowerment of youth, gender equality and human rights.
Malta is the only country to receive the George Cross – for the ‘heroism and devotion of its people’ during the great siege it underwent in the Second World War, a fact the Queen has referenced twice during her visit.
Yesterday the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh also recaptured a poignant moment from their past – recreating a famous photograph taken in Malta 66 years ago.
It was 1949 and the couple were newly married – the Queen a young Princess, the Duke the dashing first lieutenant of the destroyer HMS Chequers. He was based there until 1951.
They were photographed again at the same spot looking out to the Grand Harbour in the capital Valletta.
It was a sentimental finale to a very personal visit which saw the Queen open the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting supported by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.
Security at the conference was tight with armed police patrolling the streets and the Maltese Army and rooftop snipers shadowing their movements.
The couple last visited Malta fleetingly in November 2007 for their diamond wedding anniversary, and the Queen had been eagerly anticipating this lengthier trip.
Yesterday the Queen delivered her farewell speech, thanking the people of Malta for their warm welcome.
‘Visiting Malta is always very special for me. I remember happy days here with Prince Philip when we were first married, and the wonderful official visits over the past 60 years,’ she said.
This feature originally appeared in Dailymail.