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Student paper chronicles encounter with Prince Charles

COURTESY PHOTO Nico Seddio along with his mother and grandmother meeting Prince Charles in Malta.
COURTESY PHOTO Nico Seddio along with his mother and grandmother meeting Prince Charles in Malta.

As “six degrees of separation” stories go, the Seddio family’s connection to the heir to the British throne is no separation at all.

Recounted as “Nico’s Royal Run-In” by reporter Lindsey Gallagher in the current issue of Shelter Island School’s student newspaper, The Inlet, a serendipitous meet and greet took place last fall with Prince Charles and student Nico Seddio on the island of Malta.

Nico went to Malta with his mother, Annmarie Seddio, to visit her mother, Winifred Chipchase, a Malta native who spends three months a year there.

While touring the ancient ruins of a megalithic temple the three happened upon the prince who, with a large entourage, was also visiting the site.

He was in Malta as part of a commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the presentation to Malta of the George Cross, Britain’s highest honor for bravery for non-combatants, and to take part in the fourth Our Oceans conference.

Ms. Seddio, Shelter Island’s receiver of taxes, recalled that upon seeing the prince, her mother, who grew up in Malta and lived there until the mid-1950s, repeated an often told story that her family owned the house on Malta where the prince’s parents, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, spent part of their honeymoon.

As Nico explained it to Ms. Gallagher, “my grandmother wanted to tell Prince Charles that he was conceived in her house” — Villa Guardamangia, now dilapidated and owned by a “crazy aunt.”

Undaunted by the prince’s security detail, Nico’s grandmother went up to his “right hand man” and related the history to him and told him that her family “is making some efforts to get the house restored.”

“The next thing they knew,” Ms. Gallagher reported, “Prince Charles’ secretary went over to the prince and relayed Nico’s grandmother’s tale.” Moments later, the three found themselves shaking hands with the man in line to be king.

Not long after, Ms. Gallagher reported, Ms. Seddio received an email from the prince’s secretary that read, in part, the prince was “absolutely delighted to have met you, your wonderful mother and son” and that “the fate of the house is of great interest to him.”

While on Malta, an area of focus of the prince’s speech to the Our Oceans conference, according to the event’s website, was the need to fight the spread of plastic waste. This is a cause dear to many here on our Island which, thanks to the Seddios, turns out to be a few degrees closer to England than previously imagined.