The Queen’s Former Malta Home Is Up For Sale

The Queen's Former Malta Home Is Up For Sale

Despite the fact that she has travelled the world extensively during her reign, one fact little known about Queen Elizabeth II is that before she became Queen, she actually lived overseas. Her and her husband, Prince Phillip, lived on the Mediterranean island of Malta while he dutifully served in the Royal Navy from 1949-1951 .

The grand neoclassical Villa Guardamangia is the only place outside of the UK that a British Monarch has ever called ‘home’. Excitingly, it is currently privately owned and up for sale!

Currently listed for just under €6 Million by Maltese luxury estate agents Homes Of Quality, the listing describes the property as “an amazing grand Palazzo style property (…) with documented great historical value (…) complimented with sea views over Marsamxett Harbour (…) crying out for a great conversion and will make a superb residence or possibly a commercial venue.”

Located in Pieta, just outside the capital city of Malta, Valetta, the Maltese government have previously displayed interest in buying the property to renovate it as a tourist attraction. It is currently in a state of disrepair. It is reported that the Queen asked to visit the house, of which she holds fond memories, when on a state visit in 2012 but that the current owners refused.

Malta has a long and colourful history, gaining independence from British Rule in only 1964, and declaring itself a Republic in 1974. Prior to then, due to its desirable central Mediterranean location it had also been ruled by the French, Knights of St. John, Greeks, Arabs, Romans and more! The marks left by these ancient rulers make for a wonderful culture filled visit!

To learn more about the history of Malta, why not order our 6 part series Ottomans vs Christians Battle For The Mediterranean, or watch part 3 of the series on Vimeo!

By Sofi Pickering

Ethiopia To Plant 4 Billion Trees To Help Combat Deforestation

Ethiopia To Plant 4 Billion Trees To Help Combat Deforestation

The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia has this week launched an initiative to reverse the damage done by widespread deforestation across the country by pledging to plant 4 billion new trees.

The prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, has vowed to begin the reforestation project at the start of the rainy season, as a part of Ethiopia’s greater commitment to building a ‘Climate Resilient Green Economy’.

The country has seen huge deforestation over recent years, ultimately leading to mineral and water loss in the soil and reduced rainfall which has caused severe droughts – the most recent being in 2017, where it is estimated that some 2 million animals perished.

Ethiopia is the second largest country in Africa by population, and the economy has been growing at an impressive rate of  between 7 – 13% over the last 15 years. Deforestation usually occurs as a matter of course in developing nations in order to provide space for homes and livestock, and materials for developing.

An added issue for Ethiopia is their economy’s reliance on the native Arabica coffee plant which grows wild and is exported and consumed worldwide. Coffee harvesting has not only contributed to the deforestation of the native plants themselves, but will also impact their ability to grow in conditions without enough canopy-cover and an adequate water supply. A study in 2006 found that Ethiopia’s coffee production accounts for 3 percent of global coffee supply and represents 34% of income from exports. With the global boom in the coffee trade, and higher demand for speciality coffees, the share of production for the world’s 7th largest coffee producer is sure only to grow.

Developing nations such as Ethiopia are quickly realising their responsibility in responding to global climate change concerns. The ‘Climate Resilient Green Economy’ strategy now employed by the Ethiopian government hopes to address these issues while strengthening growth and building a greener future for its people.

Want to learn some more about Ethiopia?

Main Image: Nina R, Ethiopia Oromia, Flickr Creative Commons

By Sofi Pickering

 

Gold Prospector Finds Gold Nugget Worth Over A$100,000

Gold Prospector Finds Gold Nugget Worth Over A$100,000

Gold fever is running high this week after a Gold Prospector, who wishes to remain anonymous, unearthed a chunk of Gold weighing 1.4 kilograms (just over 3lbs) in Western Austrialia. The cigarette-packet-sized piece was removed from less than a metre below the surface, and within 100km of the city Kalgoorlie-Boulder.

Gold Prospecting – the act of searching for gold – has become a popular recreation in the area, with people flocking from all over Australia and from overseas hoping to get lucky. The permit to do so costs just $25, and allows the prospector to find and remove up to 20 kilograms of the precious metal.

The current price of Gold is around £32,500 per kilogram (nearly $60,000AUD). However the question is whether he intends to sell it or sit on it – the price of gold has dramatically increased over the last 20 years, and due to it’s finite supply and increasing demand, is only likely to become more scarce and more valuable! Matt Cook, of prospecting equipment company Finders Keepers, has also pointed out that collectors typically pay a premium of 15 to 20 per cent on top of the gold value for rare specimens.

Mineral-rich Australia is the second largest Gold producer in the world after China. Other mining operations include metals such as Copper, Silver, Iron Ore and Uranium among others, and also gemstones such as Diamonds and Opals.

Will you be taking your detector, pick, pan and shovel out any time soon?

By Sofi Pickering

 

Nepali Sherpa Guide Reaches Summit Of Mount Everest For 23rd Time

Nepali Sherpa Guide Reaches Summit Of Mount Everest For 23rd Time

Kami Rita, a Sherpa guide from Nepal, has broken his own world record this week by reaching the summit of Mount Everest for the 23rd time.

49 year-old Mr Rita made the ascent from the Nepali side of the 8,848 metre high mountain. Mount Everest straddles the border of Nepal and Tibet, the autonomous region of China, and is the highest mountain in the world.

A mountain-climber since 1994, Mr Rita had heard stories of how well regarded the Sherpas are and had wanted to become a guide and summit Everest. In a statement reported by Online Khabar, Mr Rita said “Initially I had nothing on my mind apart from climbing Everest. That’s all I wanted to do which is why I started to make myself fit and went trekking as a porter around the Everest region.”

The word Sherpa is actually the name of the indigenous people of the Himalayas who are very experienced navigators and climbers. However, with the emergence of non-native people and sportsman wanting to make the summit, the name is now used to describe a person who is paid to navigate the mountain, to lay the ropes and to carry the kit on the expedition.

Sherpas in the past have been known to comment on how it is not them who receive recognition for the climb despite often making it multiple times in a lifetime, and so Mr Rita’s record-breaking ascent is a great source of national pride and flies the flag for all other Sherpas.

Mr Rita plans to make the trip another two times, which if successful will total 25 times where he reaches the summit. The climb is known for its danger and dependence on fair weather, and so Mr Rita is always wary of the potential for things to go wrong before he sets off. Having now navigated the climb 23 times, he is definitely best placed to identify the most perilous spots and deal with them accordingly.

We salute you, Mr Rita!

Why not download or purchase our Globetrekker – Nepal DVD?

Also, don’t miss our Trekking in Nepal – Climbing Mount Everest segment on YouTube!!

 

Main image: Nick, Everest, Flickr Creative Commons

By Sofi Pickering

Italian Island Of Capri Bans Single Use Plastics

Italian Island Of Capri Bans Single Use Plastics

Capri has become the latest Italian resort to introduce a ban on single use plastics, and are imposing hefty fines of up to 500 Euros on anyone seen using any disposable and non-compostable plastics. The move not only targets the mass-tourism that the Island sees over the summer months, but also beach vendors selling goods accompanied with plastic cups, plates and cutlery, and plastic carrier bags which are not compostable.

Read: Etihad Airways Goes Plastic Free For Earth Day

Capri is an island set in the picturesque and naturally stunning bay of Naples, and with an ever increasing pressure on coastal municipalities to target ocean pollution, the government has vowed to step-up and help the global effort.

As an example of a beautiful place which could easily be spoiled from the effects of plastic pollution, Capri’s mayor, Giovanni De Martino, has made it clear that Capri can not avoid participating in the initiative, and that it is not only a bid to keep the tourist areas tidy, but more the non-touristic areas which feel the effects of the pollution most. He wishes to set an example of how the whole world can do their part to stop and reverse the damage.

Local campaign group Legambiente have been pursuing an aggressive campaign of keeping the seas clean – “The Sea Doesn’t Ask, But He Needs You” – and they have praised the efforts of the island in the creation of this new legislation which came into effect from May 1st.

The plastic-free movement has been gaining traction in Capri since around 2012, with large organisations such as Project Aware, a worldwide scuba cleanup operation, and Oceanus, a local non-profit research group collaborating in helping people to move away from single use plastic carrier bags.

Capri is not the only place in Italy to bring such legislation into effect, so if you are planning a trip then please check before you travel so as to avoid any embarrassment or hefty fines. If ending plastic pollution is something that you feel passionate about, then please check up on local clean-ups in the area you are travelling to before you go. Organisations such as 4Ocean, Project Aware, Ocean Conservancy, National Trust and many more offer opportunities to get together with others and tidy up the oceans one piece at a time.

Why not download our episode of Globetrekker – Southern Italy?  

Main Image: Visit to Capri, martin-vmorris, Flickr Creatice Commons

By Sofi Pickering

 

Japan Welcomes New Emperor and New Era

Japan Welcomes New Emperor and New Era

Wednesday morning, upon accession to the Chrysanthemum Throne and following his father’s abdication, Japan’s Emperor Naruhito has pledged to “stand with the nation and maintain the unity of Japan” whilst embarking on a devoted path of self-improvement in a new era which is to become known as the Reiwa Era. His father, Emperor Akihito’s abdication comes after 30 years on the throne and in light of old-age and ill-health.

Emperor Akihito’s reign is synonymous with a period of stable society in Japan despite economic turmoil and natural disasters, and he is known for his closeness to the public. In the 85-year-old’s short statement to the people on Tuesday, Akihito thanked the people and prayed for the peace and happiness of all Japan.

“Today, I am concluding my duties as the Emperor.

I would like to offer my deep gratitude to the words just spoken by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on behalf of the people of Japan.

Since ascending the throne 30 years ago, I have performed my duties as the Emperor with a deep sense of trust in and respect for the people, and I consider myself most fortunate to have been able to do so. I sincerely thank the people who accepted and supported me in my role as the symbol of the State.

I sincerely wish, together with the Empress, that the Reiwa era, which begins tomorrow, will be a stable and fruitful one, and I pray, with all my heart, for peace and happiness for all the people in Japan and around the world.”

Outside of Japan, it is common to refer to the Japanese Emperor by their given name, however in Japanese culture it is considered impolite to refer to His Imperial Majesty by his given name until such a time where he is no longer a ruling emperor. Emperor Akihito will now be known as His Majesty Emperor Emeritus, which is a name that signifies retirement before the posthumous name can be given. Akihito’s is the first abdication of a Japanese Emperor in over 200 years, and most accessions to the throne occur due to the passing of the incumbent. Japan’s post-war constitution states that an emperor must ‘serve for life’, and so his abdication was no small feat – sources claim he’d been trying to pass on the duties to his son for 9 years. Traditionally, the posthumous name given to the Emperor is the name given to the Era in which he ruled – in Akihito’s case, Heisei, which means “achieving peace”.

Yesterday, in a separate address to the people, Naruhito, His Imperial Majesty The Emperor vowed to continue the duties of Emperor in earnest, and to reflect deeply on the course followed by His Majesty the Emperor Emeritus, and of emperors before him.

“When I think about the important responsibility I have assumed, I am filled with a sense of solemnity.

Looking back, His Majesty the Emperor Emeritus, since acceding to the Throne, performed each of his duties in earnest for more than 30 years, while praying for world peace and the happiness of the people, and at all times sharing in the joys and sorrows of the people. He showed profound compassion through his own bearing. I would like to express my heartfelt respect and appreciation of the comportment shown by His Majesty the Emperor Emeritus as the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people of Japan.

In acceding to the Throne, I swear that I will reflect deeply on the course followed by His Majesty the Emperor Emeritus and bear in mind the path trodden by past emperors, and will devote myself to self-improvement. I also swear that I will act according to the Constitution and fulfill my responsibility as the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people of Japan, while always turning my thoughts to the people and standing with them. I sincerely pray for the happiness of the people and the further development of the nation as well as the peace of the world.”

Emperor Akihito’s ability to connect with the people of Japan in times of disaster will surely be one carried forward by his son. A pacifist, Akihito has spent the last several years quietly questioning Japan’s increasing nationalist conservative movements and maintaining his ideals of post-war peace and individual choice. The role of Emperor is mostly symbolic, however in the case of Akihito, these characteristics earned him much respect from the people of Japan and strengthened the image of the Imperial Family at a time where Royal families across the world are becoming more and more separated from the democratic processes and citizens of their nations.

The Oxford educated Naruhito has throughout his time as Imperial Crown Prince contributed to the efforts of the World Water Council and the United Nations, giving keynote speeches at many of their annual events. His work surrounds the issues of disaster management and water infrastructure for development. Japan has long had universal water supply and sanitation, something that many of it’s neighbours in South East Asia have not yet achieved. Japan also lies at one of the most volatile points of the earth, where the North American, Pacific, Eurasian and Philippine tectonic plates come together creating many problems over the centuries with earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis.

Naruhito takes the throne at a time where Japan is the third largest economy in the world. International relations are central to their trading relationships with other large economies, in particular the USA and China. The Emperor plays an important diplomatic role, and he intends to continue his ambassadorial duties in maintaining and forging peaceful relations. He also intends to continue his work in striving to provide global universal clean water and to promote diversity within Japan.

Japan has the oldest hereditary monarchy in the world, dating back to 660BC. To learn more about Japan’s Imperial Family, download and watch our episode of Empire Builders: Japan, or buy the DVD here!

Main image: Natalie Maguire, Imperial Palace, Flickr Creative Commons

By Sofi Pickering

Etihad Airways Goes Plastic Free For Earth Day

Etihad Airways Goes Plastic Free For Earth Day

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, is the first airline in the region to operate an ultra long-haul flight without any single-use plastics on board, in a bid to raise awareness of the effects of plastic pollution. The flight landed in Brisbane on 22 April – Earth Day.

Earth Day is now a global event each year, with over 1 billion people in 192 countries taking part in large-scale civic and political action. 2020 will mark Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary, and with plastic pollution being one of the biggest issues the planet faces, the organisation has committed to a multi-year campaign to eliminate plastic pollution. Since the beginning of the campaign in 2018, consumers and companies alike are broadly committing to the effort, and Etihad’s initiative is a great example of what can be achieved when the world works together to bring about ecological change.

Etihad identified over 95 single-use plastic products used across its aircraft cabins. Once removed from aircraft, Etihad prevented over 50 kilograms of plastics from being sent to landfill in that single flight. The flight is a big part of Etihad’s ongoing commitment to protecting the environment, and the airline has pledged to reduce it’s single-use plastic consumption by 80% by the end of 2022.

H.H. Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Transport said: “Sustainable and efficient transport is core to the government’s vision, and we commend Etihad’s proactivity in paving the way for sustainability and efficiency in air transportation. The investment in sustainable alternative fuels and the focus on emerging environmental concerns such as plastic pollution reaffirms Etihad’s commitment to the Abu Dhabi transport vision.”

Guests on board enjoyed eco-friendly products such as sustainable amenity kits, award-winning eco-thread blankets made out of recycled plastic bottles, tablet toothpaste and edible coffee cups while children were treated to eco-plush toys. Where sustainable alternatives to in-flight amenities could not be sourced, the items instead were withheld from the flight.

As a result of planning the Earth Day flight, Etihad additionally committed to remove up to 20 per cent of the single-use plastic items on board by 1 June 2019. By the end of this year, Etihad will have removed 100 tonnes of single-use plastics from its in flight service.

Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said: “There is a growing concern globally about the overuse of plastics which can take thousands of years to decompose. We discovered we could remove 27 million single-use plastic lids from our inflight service a year and, as a leading airline, it’s our responsibility to act on this, to challenge industry standards and work with suppliers who provide lower impact alternatives.”

Why not travel with us to the United Arab Emirates with Globetrekker’s Arab Gulf States?

Main Image: Etihad 787-9, LoadedAaron, Flickr Creative Commons

By Sofi Pickering

Marie Antoinette’s Newly Restored Apartments Open to The Public for the First Time in 3 Years

Marie Antoinette's Newly Restored Apartments Open to The Public for the First Time in 3 Years

After 3 years of renovation at the Chateau de Versailles, Marie Antoinette’s private chambers have been re-opened to the public for viewing.

The renovation, which began in 2016, was carried out in order to ensure the safety and longevity of all of the public collections that the Chateau houses. This included upgrading fire safety, and modernising the climate control which is designed to preserve the collections as well as possible – a technique employed by many museums around the world.

The large scale operation required full closure of the building, and so the Chateau used the opportunity to carry out a heritage restoration of the Queen’s apartments.

The Chateau was the Queen’s official residence alongside French King Louis XVI in the years prior the the French Revolution.

“Thus, the room of the Queen’s Guards has regained the magnificence of its decor, thanks to the patronage of the American Friends of Versailles and the Society of the Friends of Versailles,” the Chateau de Versailles said in a press release. “In the Queen’s room, the restorers were also able to reveal the original appearance of the spectacular rococo decoration, which thus finds all its legibility and virtuosity.”

Some of her furniture remains in their original positions, such as Marie Antoinette’s jewellery cabinet. The Queen was well known for her love of flamboyant jewellery in her younger years, and her collections have since fetched record amounts at auction.

Other pieces were replaced with similar items or remade to look like the original. The tapestries hanging on the bed and walls were re-woven in Lyon using the original patterns. Many of the original pieces had been auctioned off between October 1793 and January 1795 by the new revolutionary government after the abolition of the Monarchy.

The Queen was not known for her popularity amongst her peers or the people, and as a result spent much time away from the Chateau itself, and at her private retreat in the Hameau de la Reine. The French tabloids had long-before chosen Antoinette as their scapegoat in depicting the wrongs in French society, despite her later preference for a more humble existence away from the mischievousness of the Elite Society at the Chateau.

Her attitude was ambiguous at the outbreak of the Revolution, and she seemed uncertain whether to seek reconciliation from the people, or to run away.  Antoinette demonstrated great courage before the Revolutionary Tribunal, and before her execution on 16 October 1793.

To find out more about Court life at the Chateau de Versailles prior to the revolution, please download and enjoy Empire Builders: Kings of Europe: France, The Austro-Hungarians and the Russian Tsars – or order the DVD here!

Main image: Versailles, Kimberley Vardeman, Flickr Creative Commons

By Sofi Pickering

Turkey’s President Seeks To Turn Hagia Sophia Into Mosque

Turkey's President Seeks To Turn Hagia Sophia Into Mosque

Turkey’s President, Tayyip Erdogan, has stated Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia should be re-titled as a mosque instead of a museum.

Hagia Sophia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was the foremost cathedral in Christendom for 900 years before becoming one of Islam’s greatest mosques for 500 years until 1935, when it was converted to a museum.

President Erdogan has brought up the issue of Hagia Sophia before. He does not say whether the status of the landmark site will also change.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has condemned Erdogan’s comments.

“Hagia Sophia bears profound historical and spiritual significance to Muslims and Christians alike, and its status as a museum must be maintained,” USCIRF Chair says in a statement.

The Turkish strongman has provoked strong nationalist and Islamic sentiments during his time in power celebrating in particular the achievements of the country’s Ottoman past.

Watch our Empire Builders – Moslem Empires and Empire Builders – Christian Empires episodes to find out more about the history of Istanbul and its changing religions and cultures.

Golf, Cheating And Trump

Golf, Cheating And Trump

A new book by Rick Reilly, about Donald Trump’s golfing habits, quotes the US President thus: “They cheat, I cheat, I expect you to cheat.”

In the book, “Commander In Cheat-How Golf Explains Trump”, Reilly speaks to caddies, team mates and opponents who give multiple examples of how Trump refuses to allow golfing etiquette or rules to get in the way of becoming a winner.

According to the book, Trump always drives off first, drives his cart on the greens, and wears his hat in the clubhouse, as he lies and cheats his way through false victories on a spectacular scale. Trump claims he plays of a Three Handicap. He is not a bad golfer but according to those who know, his real handicap is about Ten.

As Trump fudges has way to glory we hear of countless instances of cheating – whether it be a Trump giving himself a “gimme “ on a pitch , taking second chances when it suits him or dropping his ball out of water hazards or bushes when no one is looking .

For the most part Trump asks his caddies to do the dirty work. And that doesn’t stop Trump doctoring his scorecard further both in a hole to hole basis, and then back in the clubhouse.

One caddie remarks that Trump’s nickname is Pele, because he is always kicking his ball back on the fairway. Another states: “Trump always has four balls in his pocket – if that tells you anything.”

Reilly remarks: “Golf’s traditions of being your own referee and calling fouls on yourself, clearly has no place in the world of Donald Trump, where it’s all about winning at any cost.”

Watch our Adventure Golf series now!