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Edgar Preca, the shy First Gentleman

In his college days, Edgar Preca’s first attempt at billiards was so unsuccessful that one of his friends jibed: “First Division stuff”.

From then on ‘Il-First’ became his life-long nickname. And from Friday, ‘Il-First’ will take on another meaning as his wife Marie-Louise Coleiro becomes the new President, and he will be Malta’s First Gentleman.

This will mean a drastic change in lifestyle for the shy, introvert Mr Preca, 57, from Valletta, who has suddenly found himself in the limelight.

“I can’t say I was excited about it in the beginning. But I didn’t want to make it more difficult for her, so I am giving her all my support. I want to be her rock,” he says.  

He is still getting used to the idea of moving to San Anton Palace, located just around the corner from their apartment in Balzan. He hopes his wife’s new role will at least give them some more time together.

They get up at 4.30am every day.

“We have a cup of tea, we say the rosary together, and sometimes we go over the papers together. At 6am the telephone starts ringing and it does not stop.

“In the evening she comes in late, I warm up her food, we chat a bit and then we wrap up the day,” he said. And invariably she’s late.

“But I’m used to it – she was late even on our first date,” he said.

The couple met 12 years ago at the General Workers’ Union cafeteria in Valletta, when they were introduced by a common friend. Ms Coleiro gave him her number and told him to stay in touch.

“But I was too shy to do that – you know with her being an MP and all that,” he says.

Four years later, at Christmastime, they bumped into each other at the very same cafeteria. “She called me out by my name – she remembered me after four years.”

Within 18 months they were married.

His role as First Gentleman will be a full-time one, most notably as chairman of the Malta Community Chest Fund. Mr Preca retired from work two years ago following a 34-year career in management at Air Malta.

Although he loved his job “and the airport”, he opted to take the voluntary early retirement scheme so he could help his wife in her electoral campaign, even going door to door to campaign for her.

“She has long days so it makes sense that I run the household myself. I support her but I am not doing anything special, it’s my duty... and I believe in equality.”

Cooking is one of his passions, as is football, photography and art. He is a great fan of Maltese artists Anton Camilleri and Luciano Micallef.

“And of course, being from Valletta, I am a great City fan – I spent my younger days at the football stadium.”

Together the couple enjoy going for walks, or simply watching an interesting television programme together. Ms Coleiro’s daughter lives with them.

Family is very dear to him. He spent 20 years nursing his elderly ill mother and would do it all over again.

He strongly believes that “the family that prays together stays together”. Perhaps it stems from the fact that the brother of his great-grandfather is St Ġorġ Preca.

Learn more on Times of Malta and the e-paper on timesofmalta.com Premium.

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