Controversial Queen Victoria statue in Valletta PHOTO: Matthew Marabelli
A historian has called for the statue of Queen Victoria in Valletta's Republic Street to be moved to Gozo.
Speaking on the latest episode of the #TimesTalk podcast, Charles Xuereb said: "I think she would be very happy to sit in a new place in Victoria, since it was named after her."
Xuereb went head-to-head with his fellow historian Simon Cusens, for a debate about Malta's British-era monuments amid global protests about symbols of racism and colonialism.
Cusens strongly believes the former monarch should stay where she is.
"She was the queen of Malta. She is depicted in her statue wearing a type of Maltese lace. It gives me great satisfaction as a proud Maltese nationalist, to walk around and see all of these relics of colonialism and know that the country now stands as a strong independent state."
A bust of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in Upper Barrakka is among the Valletta British-era statues in the capital city. Photo Matthew Mirabelli
But Xuereb believes it has the opposite effect.
"Valletta has 30 monuments. Twenty of these are dedicated to the British period and were mostly put up by the British themselves as propaganda. There is only one Maltese coat of arms in the capital and it is located on Queen Victoria’s bottom! It’s an insult and travel writers even joke about it in the guidebooks."
The debate over the Queen Victoria statue has been reignited by the recent marches across the world in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
"People in the US are fighting for equality, for freedom and for opportunity,” continues Xuereb.
"The George Floyd movement came along because of racism, but what is the parent of racism, only colonialism."
And Xuereb believes continuing to celebrate colonialism still negatively affects the Maltese mentality today.
"Even in 2020, we think that our former masters are superior to us. You have British Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying earlier this month, ‘we don’t want to become obese like the Maltese.’ But in her 64-year-reign Queen Victoria never once visited Malta and when her aunt asked her for some funds to build an Anglican Church for her servicemen she refused. She should be removed."
Cusens disagrees. "Moving the statue is interfering with the context of history and I am totally against that. There is a danger of recontextualising history. A monument shows a snapshot of history and should not be removed. If anything has to be done, maybe add a plaque which explains the statue in a more modern context."