Now Malta says they won’t ‘pursue’ the matter of David Attenborough’s tooth fossil

Before we dive back into the Fossil Drama, should we spend a second talking about the Duchess of Cambridge’s dress? It’s now widely believed that Kate spent much of her lockdown shopping on the internet and buying tons of prairie dresses, Sister Wife dresses and other dated looks. We’ve seen a steady stream of new dresses in Kate’s Zoom calls and in recent events. When Kate and the children spent time with Sir David Attenborough last week, Kate again debuted a new dress: this is the denim “Marley” dress by Gabriela Hearst. It’s crafted from “repurposed denim,” which in theory should mean that it’s eco-conscious design. All of which is fine. But I balked at the price tag: this dress retails for $1,590!! You’re going to drop $1600 on a denim dress for one measly photo-op?? I guess so.

As for the Fossil Drama, here’s the recap: Prince William apparently invited Sir David Attenborough over to Kensington Palace so that the older gentleman could screen his new Netflix documentary for William (and apparently William alone). At some point during the visit, Kate brought the children out to speak to Sir David, and David presented Prince George with a gift: a fossilized tooth of a shark relative, a piece of bone which is likely around millions of years old? Attenborough found it in Malta in the 1960s. Kensington Palace quickly squawked with delight about the gift to the young boy who will one day be king. And by talking about the gift, they drew attention to the fact that… oh right, this is a fossil from Malta and Attenborough had no business smuggling it out of the country. So the Maltese culture minister was like “actually we want that back.” Well, now the Maltese government is trying to soften this whole story.

The Maltese culture minister, José Herrera, reportedly pledged to investigate if the tooth should, in fact, be returned for display on the island where it was originally excavated. Asked by the Times of Malta whether there were plans to add the tooth to the nation’s heritage collection, Herrera said he would “get the ball rolling”.

“There are some artefacts that are important to Maltese natural heritage, which ended up abroad and deserve to be retrieved,” he said. “We rightly give a lot of attention to historical and artistic artefacts. However, it is not always the case with our natural history. I am determined to direct a change,” the paper quoted him saying.

Fossils fall under the definition of cultural heritage as a “movable or immovable object of geological importance” and, in line with the provisions of the Cultural Heritage Act 2002, their removal or excavation is now expressly forbidden, the Times of Malta reported.

Late on Monday, however, Malta’s culture ministry appeared to row back from the threat to Prince George’s keepsake. A spokesperson said: “The minister’s initial comments were based on the related national legislation in particular the Cultural Heritage Act, 2002 which superseded the previous legislation being the Antiquities (Protection) Act of 1910 and the Antiquities (Protection) Act of 1925. The minister would like to note that with reference to this case, it is not the intention to pursue this matter any further.”

Kensington Palace declined to comment on the issue.

The British royal family has long faced calls for the repatriation of a number of famous items, many the product of looting and plunder by explorers or soldiers over centuries or acquired through colonisation. These include the famous diamond, the Koh-i-noor (Mountain of Light), reportedly worth more than £100m, and the star piece in the crown worn by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother on the coronation of George VI, and again at the Queen’s 1953 coronation. It currently forms part of the crown jewels.

[From The Guardian]

The Koh-I-Noor absolutely, 100% needs to go back to India. Just send it back, for the love of Vishnu. It belongs in an Indian museum. As for the fossil gifted to Prince George… it sounds like some powerful people in the Maltese government got some calls from the British Foreign Office. I wonder what threats or promises were made. All so a young prince could keep a fossil which he never had any business being given. To be clear, it’s not George’s fault. He’s just a kid and he accepted a gift. But William knows better and so does David Attenborough. It’s 2020 and the days where white British dudes could just waltz out of countries with fossils and antiquities are OVER.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Kensington Palace.

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