HRH releases the turtles

The Prince of Wales has been welcomed to Malta with a handshake from the nation's prime minister and smiles from excited tourists.

His Royal Highness began his two-day trip to the Commonwealth country with a meeting with prime minister Joseph Muscat, and was presented with a posy by his twin daughters.

A meeting with the Prime Minister
A meeting with the Prime Minister

Later that evening, The Prince attended a commemoration of the awarding of the 75th Anniversary of the George Cross to Malta.

In a speech The Prince told the guests invited to the ceremony: "These remarkable islands, with which my family hold such a deep and personal connection, suffered truly unimaginable hardship as the brutal ferocity of war engulfed them."

Before leaving the commemorations His Royal Highness met some of the Second World War veterans including Mr Allan Scott, a 96-year-old ex-flight sergeant, who was making his first visit to the country since he patrolled the skies over the Mediterranean islands during July-December 1942, said of Malta: "It was the most bombed place on earth, it was really - they stated it, Malta was the most bombed place on earth.”

Before the event began, Mr Scott, who played down his efforts during the Second World War, was mobbed by dignitaries who wanted to shake his hand and thank him for his war service.

On the second day of the visit to Malta, His Royal Highness delivered the keynote speech to the Our Ocean Conference, a global conference on safeguarding the world's oceans. The Prince remarked that the growing threat to the world's marine ecology has reached a critical point where plastics are "now on the menu",

His Royal Highness told delegates at the conference, staged in Malta: "As many of you know so well, the eight million tonnes of plastic that enter the sea every year - through our own doing I might add - is now almost ubiquitous.

"For all the plastic that we have produced since the 1950s that has ended up in the ocean is still with us in one form or another, so that wherever you swim there are particles of plastic near you and we are very close to reaching the point when whatever wild-caught fish you eat will contain plastic.

"Plastic is indeed now on the menu."

Later that afternoon, The Prince of Wales released a turtle made ill by plastic back into the sea. One of the turtles, named Denise (and estimated to be 18 years old), made her way into the water at Golden Bay, after recovering from breathing problems caused by plastic she had eaten.

He first picked an eight-year-old turtle named Tomisina, who had had a fishing hook removed from her throat - probably caused by trying to eat fish used for bait - and then helped Kirby, aged 15, who had a hook removed from a flipper.

When Kirby moved slowly along the sands and stopped, the Prince joked:

"As long as it doesn't turn turtle - it's so marvellous."