Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Queen Margherita of Savoy
No one would deny that Queen Margherita had a winning personality and was almost instantly extremely popular with the Italian people. When she and King Umberto first arrived in Rome to take up residence in the Quirinale Palace, huge crowds stood in the pouring rain to greet them. They roared with delight as Margherita had the canopy removed from the carriage, drenching herself and her husband, but allowing her to stand up and greet the crowds. They had all stood in the rain to see her and she would not see them disappointed because of little dampness. Her soft beauty no doubt added to her popularity but she was the not the sort to abide sycophants. The Queen, unlike most Italians, was fair-haired and blue eyed but she reacted quite angrily to any who tried to flatter her by extolling the racial superiority of north Europeans over the Latins of the south. The Queen was Italian to the core and would display nor tolerate the slightest talk that might divide the newly united country. Even though Italian had not been her first language as a child, she was as ardent a patriot as could be imagined.
Queen Margherita was much more well rounded than most would assume of someone who held such strident views. She was intelligent, spoke Latin fluently, well-read and played the piano. She enjoyed the arts, intelligent conservation and the company of well educated people. During her time, she made her salon a center of artistic and intellectual lights and so won many people from diverse walks of life to supporting the monarchy, even some who had previously been adamantly opposed to it. Her grace and charm were legendary, impressing even Queen Victoria whose impeccably high standards made her a woman rather hard to impress. She founded several societies dedicated to the study of Italian literature, was patron of numerous charities and was most highly involved in the Italian Red Cross. The Queen was also brave enough to do a little mountain climbing, there being few experiences she was not open to. She was a very religious woman, zealously devoted to her royal house and, though she never had nor sought much political influence, advocated the pursuit of Italian greatness and the glory of the Savoy monarchy. It was, for this reason, that she was an ally of Prime Minister Francesco Crispi who pursued a policy of development and expansion.