Malta gains Independence
21st September 1964
In the 1962 elections, 76% of the electorate voted for the principal parties which were demanding Independence. The Nationalists gained a majority and therefore Dr George Borg Olivier became Prime Minister. Shortly afterwards, amendments to the Constitution were made. Borg Olivier proceeded to London to ask for a financial agreement and demand Independence with full membership within the Commonwealth. At the time unemployment had risen to 6% and there were fears of discharges from the Naval Arsenal.
On the 20th August 1962 Dr Borg Olivier presented his formal request for Independence. It was soon made known that the Attorney General Prof J J Cremona, was working on a draft constitution while it was announced that a Malta Independence Conference was to be held at Marlborough House, London. The Conference started on the 16th July, 1963. Delegates from all the political parties led by Dr George Borg Olivier, Mr. Dom. Mintoff, Mr. Toni Pellegrini, Dr Herbert Ganado and Miss Mabel Strickland attended. The Conference was chaired by Mr. Duncan Sandys. Discussions went on right through July. The Maltese Government was asking for a monarchical state with a Governor General representing the Queen. The Secretary of State proposed a referendum about the constitution.
Initially it was announced that Malta would be granted Independence by the 31st May, 1964, but controversial issues about the constitution and a demand for elections prior to the granting of independence, prolonged the discussions and made this impossible. In the meantime the draft was presented before parliament. Political leaders again went to London late in 1963 to discuss the referendum. Further discussions were held in February 1964 and in March 1964 Duncan Sandys and Borg Olivier issued a Joint Statement declaring that Borg Oliver was going to present the draft constitution before the National Assembly and after its approval, it would be presented to the Maltese electorate for a referendum. These were approved and a referendum was held in May when 129,649 or 82.6% of the electorate voted. Out of these, 65,714 voted for independence.
Dr Borg Olivier proceeded to London to discuss the constitution, a Defence Agreement and Economic Aid. It was proposed that British forces would be allowed to stay for ten years while the British Government was to provide Lstg50 millions to help in the diversification of the economy. Malta's Draft Constitution was approved in the House of Commons on 23rd July 1964 and the date for Independence was set for the 21st September, 1964.
Malta became a democratic constitutional monarchy with Elizabeth II declared as Queen of Malta. The Duke of Edinburgh came to Malta as her official representative to participate in the various festivities. On the night of the 20-21st September, the Maltese Flag was raised at Independence Arena, Floriana, amidst the cheers of the large crowd present. Malta had become an independent nation.
Key Dates - Independence
1962 - The Maltese Prime Minister presents a formal request for Independence
1963 - Malta Independence Conference held at Marlborough House, London.
1964 - Independence Referendum
1964 - Malta Independence within the British Commonwealth