The Only Place Outside Of Britain That Queen Elizabeth Ever Called Home

Queen Elizabeth II's most famous residence has to be Buckingham Palace: a sprawling, ornate home in the heart of London, truly fit for a monarch. Fans of British history -– or anyone who's watched "The Crown" on Netflix –- might also recognize the name of Balmoral Castle, an estate in Scotland and a second home for the queen, where she goes when she wants a little rest and relaxation.

But the queen has also lived outside of the United Kingdom -– even if only briefly. From 1949 to 1951, the queen and her husband, Prince Phillip, were actually based in Malta, a small island country that can be found in the middle of the Mediterranean (via Reuters). A former British colony, Malta served as an important naval base for the British military wing for many years. In fact, that's why Queen Elizabeth II and her husband were in the Mediterranean: Phillip, who joined the Navy in 1939, according to Esquire, was serving in Malta during this period, so the whole family lived on the island together.

The Queen's Maltese villa

The queen's villa in Malta wasn't quite on the level of Buckingham Palace, but that doesn't mean it wasn't impressive. In fact, the house had a name, Villa Guardamangia, according to Reuters. Located in Valletta, the capital city of Malta, Reuters describes the house as having had 6 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, servants' quarters, and a view of a nearby harbor when the royal couple lived there. There was also a porch, garden, murals, and plenty of other amenities for the house residents. The two-story limestone house was reportedly a place where the queen felt "normal," (via Tatler). She hosted parties at the Maltese house, according to Reuters, and she often drove around the island by herself.

Perhaps contributing to the sense of normalcy is the fact that her time in Malta was one of the last periods in her life before Princess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth II. She married Prince Philip in 1947, and by 1952 her father King George VI died and the princess was crowned queen in 1953. Yet by 1951, the queen and Philip had already left Malta, and according to Reuters, they would never again return to the Villa Guardamangia, even when they returned to the country itself for future visits.

Future plans for the villa

After the future queen and prince moved out of their Maltese house, a single woman moved in, according to Reuters. But she didn't take good care of the home, and eventually it began to deteriorate. Now, decades later, the villa is severely run-down.

However, there's hope that this might not be the case for much longer. In 2020, the Maltese government was able to buy the Villa Guardamangia and announced their plans to renovate and revitalize the property in order to make it available to the public. Much of the house will become a museum about Maltese history, but other parts will be restored to their appearance when Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip lived in the home, according to Tatler

The restoration will take five years and cost between 5 and 10 million euros per The Telegraph, which describes the home as having 18 rooms. The renovations are expected to be "extensive," according to an expert familiar with the work. "It's been falling to pieces for the last few decades," he told the Telegraph. "It's in a very dilapidated state."