Maria Puente, NewsyBag
Published 4:42 p.m. ET Sept. 28, 2020 | Updated 5:51 p.m. ET Sept. 28, 2020
The “lucky” life and adventures of naturalist and TV presenter David Attenborough are explored in WWF documentary, “David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet.” (Sept. 21)
Well, this could get awkward: The Mediterranean island country of Malta says it wants its ancient shark tooth back from young future king Prince George of Cambridge, who received it as a gift from British nature filmmaker David Attenborough.
Unexpected pictures released by Kensington Palace on Saturday showed George, 7, and his siblings, Princess Charlotte, 5, and Prince Louis, 2, looking intrigued and delighted as they examined the tooth from a carcharocles megalodon, an extinct species that lived more than 3 million years ago and was three times the size of modern great white sharks.
But Maltese culture leaders were not so delighted, according to The Times of Malta. Culture Minister Jose Herrera told The Times he will “get the ball rolling” to bring back the tooth to be exhibited in a Maltese museum.
New royal photos: Prince William, Duchess Kate share photos of their family with Sir David Attenborough
“There are some artifacts that are important to natural heritage which ended up abroad and deserve to be retrieved,” he said.
“We rightly give a lot of attention to historical and artistic artifacts. However, it is not always the case with our natural history. I am determined to direct a change in this attitude.”
When Attenborough, 94, visited Kensington Palace last week to show the children’s father, Prince William, a screening of his latest film, “David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet,” in the palace garden, he gave George the ancient tooth.
Attenborough said he had picked it up on a family holiday on Malta in the late 1960s.
Prince George, a great-grandson to Queen Elizabeth II, is third in line to the British throne, and beloved by royal fans.
All of this, plus the pictures, was reported over the weekend in the United Kingdom and around the world. Naturally, it came to the attention of Malta, a former British colony that won its independence in 1964 and is now a member of the Commonwealth.
According to The Times, fossils such as the shark tooth fall under the definition of cultural heritage as a “moveable or immovable object of geological importance” and thus “under the provisions of the Cultural Heritage Act 2002, their removal or excavation is (now) forbidden.”
It is unclear whether Malta’s hands-off-cultural artifacts law was in effect in the 1960s, and Kensington Palace declined to comment.
But both Attenborough and the Duke of Cambridge, 38, are longtime allies in royal campaigns to fight wildlife poaching and the damaging effects of global climate change.
That was why he gave Will an in-person private screening of his new film, with the two of them seated in director’s chairs in front of an outdoor screen.
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