Independence festivities ‘VVIPs’ question taken to parliament

Individuals suffering from personal persecution and others undergoing rehabilitation programmes among selected group who met Prince William at the Upper Barrakka reception

Prince William with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Michelle Muscat at Upper Barrakka Gardens
Prince William with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Michelle Muscat at Upper Barrakka Gardens

Questions raised by the media on who were the ‘Independence VVIPs’ invited to meet Prince William at the Upper Barrakka gardens has made it to parliament.

The interest was generated after President Emeritus Eddie Fenech Adami and former prime minister Lawrence Gonzi were among the high-profile individuals kept out of the area where guests were able to meet Prince William during the Independence celebrations.

In a reply raised by PN secretary-general Chris Said, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that those given the opportunity to meet the Duke of Cambridge were persons active in the voluntary sector.

These included those working closely with persons with disability, women’s rights and LGBTI advocates, individuals working with victims of domestic violence, persons involved in drug rehabilitation and cancer support workers.

The Prime Minister said that, for reasons relating to the protection of a number of these individuals, the list of names could not be published.

“Among those invited are individuals seeking refuge from personal persecution and individuals undergoing rehabilitation programmes,” Muscat said.

He went on to deny that the area was a “VVIP”.

According to Muscat, individuals active in the political life given the opportunity to meet the Duke of Cambridge were the deputy prime minister, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the leader of the Opposition and the two deputy leaders of the Nationalist and Labour parties.

Muscat also said that the preparations for Prince William’s visit were coordinated between the Maltese Government, the British High Commission and Kensington Palace.

“Security during such visits is of utmost importance. It was also the government’s wish that the Duke of Cambridge is given the opportunity to meet with individuals coming from the different social spheres,” he said.

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