78-year-old Charles Cordina definitely has a lot of incredible stories to tell his children. But it is one particular story of how he ended up being best friends with Prince Charles that he will definitely cherish forever. Now in his dying moments, Charles has only one request; to compile a set of photos from his last meeting with the prince. Desperate for closure, his son is doing everything he can to fill in the gaps and find the final souvenir from a friendship decades in the making.
A former Chief Petty Officer, Charles served for 30 years in the British Royal Navy, becoming the longest-serving crew member on an aircraft carrier. During this time, he served alongside the Queen’s three sons, Prince Andrew, Edward and Charles.
When Charles (affectionately known as Charlie in the Navy) met Prince Charles a whole 35 years later during the Royal Family’s CHOGM visit to Malta in 2015, the Royal Family member instantly recognised him. In fact, Prince Charles had rushed to meet him at the hotel hobby, introducing him as his “best friend” to a number of ambassadors and prime ministers.
Prince Charles revisited Malta two years later, last October. His old friend Charlie was invited to the 75th George Cross Commemoration in Valletta, where the two were reunited.
It was here that the Maltese veteran even donated a private token to Prince Charles as a memory of the two’s long-standing friendship. Pictures were taken by journalists during the brief meeting, but Cordina’s family has yet to find the photos. It was here that, after his father got very sick, Arist Cordina took to Facebook to post a heartbreaking plea.
“This is very urgent,” Arist’s post started. “My father is very sick.” The post went on to say that the family have no idea who the photojournalists were and where the photos are. “I wrote to all the British tabloids but got nowhere,” Arist said. “My father deeply wishes to have a copy f any picture taken of him with the Prince last October, and I am doing all I can do make this happen.”
“His 79th birthday is coming on the 5th of May, but at this rate he may not live through April,” Arist told Lovin Malta. “If I don’t manage to get him these photos, I’ll never forgive myself.”
“Even the British High Commission, the entity which actually gave the security clearances to the journalists and photographers in the first place, are trying, but we haven’t got anywhere yet,” Arist told Lovin Malta. “I wanted to shoot a video of my father asking for this, but he’s too weak right now.”
Barely an hour after the Facebook post appeared online, Arist’s plea had already been shared dozens of times. People started tagging DOI and local photographers, with some of them already replying. It seems like hopefully, Charlie Cordina might just get his final wish.