Thursday, April 17, 2014
Monday, April 7, 2014
The crisis began with a marriage but there was another scandal that occurred first which may have set the scene for what caused the eventual division of the Italian monarchist community. In 1969, the Crown Prince, Victor Emmanuel, Prince of Naples decided to give himself a major royal promotion and attempted to usurp the position of his father. He began styling himself “King Victor Emmanuel IV” on the ridiculous grounds that his father had forfeited his position by accepting the outcome of the republican referendum in 1946 (which was ridiculous as it stood but also completely dishonest as the King had done no such thing). By this time, of course, King Umberto II was quite elderly and have been unaware of the antics of his only son. He claimed the right to act as head of the House of Savoy and in that capacity raised his longtime, common-born, girlfriend to the nobility with the title of Duchess. The following year, 1970, the Prince of Naples, married without the consent of his father his longtime girlfriend-turned duchess Marina Doria in a civil marriage in Las Vegas, Nevada. Whether the King withheld his permission because the bride was a commoner or because it was a civil rather than Catholic ceremony is unknown but it is clear that his consent was not given nor is there any reason why it should have been sought by the couple considering that the Prince of Naples had already declared his own father deposed and himself the true King-in-exile.
In any event, the King never wrote anything more down or said anything publicly about what was obviously a painful, private matter for the family. Before his passing, however, he did bestow the highest order of knighthood of the House of Savoy on the son of the Duke of Aosta, rather than his own grandson Prince Filiberto, which many took as a clear sign of who he intended to lead the family in the future. The last King of Italy to date, Umberto II, died in 1983 and his son, the Prince of Naples, immediately declared himself (again) head of the family and, in an attempt at reconciliation, Queen Marie-Jose urged her daughters to rally in support of their brother. They did so at the time as did some other family members and the greatest asset of the supporters of Crown Prince Victor Emmanuel is that no one really said anything in opposition to him for years until a series of increasingly more embarrassing scandals (including an arrest and some jail time) brought him into disrepute. It was only at that time that the Duke of Aosta openly declared the succession of his cousin to have been invalid on the grounds of his marriage and that he, Prince Amadeus, was the true head of the House of Savoy.
Finally, the good news is that, despite some extreme unpleasantness, this is one succession dispute that should resolve itself -provided no one tries to do anything ridiculous. The reason for that is that the Prince of Naples has only one son, the Prince of Venice, and he has only daughters whereas the Duke of Aosta has both a son and a grandson. Therefore, in the course of time there should no longer be any grounds for dispute between the two branches of the family since the Savoy rules of succession clearly state that women may not inherit the throne. The senior line will run out of male heirs with Prince Filiberto and the Aosta line should then stand unchallenged. However, I have to add “should” there because the Prince of Venice has stated, at least once, that he may intend for one of his daughters to succeed him, discounting the house rules altogether. If that happens, the dispute could go on for a very long time to come, however, it would also mean that one side was completely disregarding the rules entirely and showing that their allegiance is based solely on personal preference. Personally, it seems clear to me that the Duke of Aosta is the proper choice but if the Italian public were totally won over by the charms of Prince Filiberto and decided to make him King of Italy, I would cheer that as well as regardless of how serious a person he might be, no one could possibly be worse than gaggle of politicians whose corruption is only matched by their incompetence, who have been ruining Italy ever since 1946.
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Among those who made the trip to attend his funeral were King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain, King Constantine II of Greece, Tsar Simeon II of Bulgaria, King Baudouin and Queen Fabiola of the Belgians, Prince Rainier III of Monaco, a representative of Pope John Paul II and many others. It was a very sad occasion and would be the beginning of an era of hardship for loyal Italians as the Royal House lost its undisputed leader. The King had maintained a court-in-exile and had worked closely with the Unione Monarchica Italian, despite his dislike of political parties, to try to set things right again. That unity that the loyal Italian monarchists had mostly enjoyed during his lifetime would be gone and remains somewhat elusive even now. It was a sad occasion for Italy and for monarchists everywhere. On such an occasion, it is perhaps best to call to mind the last message King Umberto II gave to the Italian nation, exhorting all to never cease to keep Italy first in their hearts and to do what is best for the country:
While the Country, barely emerged from a tragic war, sees her frontiers menaced, and her own unity in peril, I believe my duty is to do all that I still can in order that further sorrow and further tears may be spared the people who have already suffered so much.
I trust that the Magistrature, whose traditions of independence and liberty are among the glories of Italy, will be able to have its free say, but not wanting to oppose force to the abuse of power, nor to render myself complicit in the illegality that the government has committed, I leave the threshold of my Country, in the hope of averting from the Italians new struggles and new sorrows. Accomplishing this sacrifice in the supreme interest of the Fatherland, I feel the duty, as an Italian and as a King, to raise my protest against the violence which has been committed, a protest in the name of the Crown and of all the people, within and without the borders, who had the right to see its destiny decided with respect for the laws, and in such a manner as to dissipate every doubt and every suspicion.
For those who still maintain fidelity to the Monarchy, for those whose spirit rebels against injustice, I record my example, and I exhort them to avoid worsening the dissensions which would threaten the unity of the Country, fruit of the faith and the sacrifice of our fathers, and which could render more severe the conditions of the peace treaty.
With a spirit full of sorrow, but with the serene consciousness of having made every effort to carry out my duties, I leave my country. Let those who have taken the oath and kept faith through the hardest trials, consider themselves released from their oath of allegiance to the King, but not from their oath of allegiance to the Country. I think of all those who have fallen in the name of Italy, and I salute all the Italians. Whatever destiny awaits our Country, she will always be able to count on me, as on the most devoted of her sons.
Long live Italy!
June 13, 1946
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Crown Prince Umberto on a troop inspection
Crown Prince Umberto reviewing defensive networks
Crown Prince Umberto in Sicily with German
Air Marshal Albert Kesselring
Crown Prince Umberto with troops for the Russian front
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
here. Blessed Umberto III had wanted to go into a monastery rather than be a prince but the duties and responsibilities of the secular life prevented this. Putting duty to his people and the House of Savoy before his own happiness, he set aside his plans for the religious life and entered the rough-and-tumble world of Medieval European politics. It was his duty to continue the Savoy family line but he had a hard time at it. His first wife died young, his second marriage ended in divorce and at that point, Umberto III decided he had done all that he could do and retired to a Carthusian monastery. However, his subjects, his nobles and other authorities begged him to return to his secular duty and so he finally did so, marrying again but having only two daughters. Once again he wished to give up and return to the monastery but again he was prevailed upon to try again and finally, on his fourth wife (his third died) he had a son who eventually succeeded him to leadership of the House of Savoy. His was a life of sacrifice, sacrificing personal happiness for royal duty -back when that sort of thing was still appreciated.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
It was on this day in 1937 that Ethiopian nationalists, using hand grenades, attempting to assassinate General Rodolfo Graziani at the Viceregal Palace in Addis Ababa, sparking a wave of retaliation and general unrest.