Human Flower Project

In Malta, the Right to Bear Wreaths

Political rivals of Malta’s current president stage a floral rebellion on the Mediterranean nation’s Independence Day.

imageMalta’s Coat-of-Arms, with olive and palm branches

Image: Wiki

Nothing shouts like a ritual wreath, big, beautiful – and imperious. Whoever lays a wreath at a public monument comes through loud and clear, all the way to the cheap seats: “Got Power If You Want It!”

And nothing communicates to the newspapers like a breach in wreath-laying protocol. This past week, “a storm in a teacup” swept in after leaders of the Labour Party and opposition toted a big wreath to the Independence monument in Floriana on Malta’s Independence Day. No big deal, you say?

Very big deal.

According to Maltese custom, the president and prime minister do the honors of laying a ceremonial wreath on this day, and Malta’s President Edward Fenech Adami and Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi both belong to the National Party. They were in church, at a special holiday mass, when Opposition leader Charles Mangion and Labour leader Joseph Muscat upstaged them, placing flowers on the monument “at 10:30 CEST.”


In your face: Malta’s Labour Party leader Joseph Muscat (left) and Opposition leader Charles Mangion defied protocol by placing a tribute wreath on the Independence monument in Floriana, beating the nation’s president to the punch

Photo: Di-Ve News

Authorities soon scuttled the opposition’s tribute out of sight, and Adami and Gonzi laid their own wreath down on schedule, at noon.

“The Labour Party said on Sunday that it had decided to lay the wreaths as a sign of respect even though it is not customary for the Opposition to be invited to the official ceremony. They complained that the flowers had been removed by the National Festivities Committee.”

Read all about it in the Times of Malta, and don’t miss the hailstorm of indignant comments.

“In what other country, at an official ceremony is anyone permitted to upstage the Heads of State? “ writes one reader.

“This is hilarious,” writes another. “The elves from the bunker accuse the Labour Party with childish behaviour when in reality they are being childish.”

“The Labour Party tries to send a message of unity by laying flowers and the nationalists attack them!!! If the protocol is in the problem why don’t we change it?”

“I mean a squabble over flowers is something you might expect as parody in the Christmas panto - except that this is real life!”

But, of course, it’s not a squabble over flowers, any more than throwing down the gauntlet is about gloves; it’s a contest over legitimacy, over Maltese tradition and power.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/28 at 08:30 PM


I’ve been waiting for the presidential candidates to wear rose - U.S. national flower - boutonnieres instead of the ubiquitous flag pin.

Posted by Georgia on 09/30 at 03:16 PM
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