Saturday, October 27, 2012

May King and Queen Honored

Today in Rome, two avenues within Villa Ada have been renamed in honor of the last King and Queen of Italy. The plaques for "Umberto II of Savoia" and "Queen Maria Josè" were unveiled by the Mayor of Rome Gianni Alemanno. He spoke of the "long and difficult" history of Italy and pointed out that it was the House of Savoy that united Italy and that it was love for that Italy which prompted the re-naming of the streets in honor of King Umberto II and Queen Marie Jose. He pointed to how the last King and Queen loved Italy and how the King chose to abdicate rather than split the country in two and possibly inaugurate a civil war. Personally, I wish he had chosen any of numerous other examples to highlight the patriotism of the last king. I do not, of course, wish to be critical of this tribute but I do think it unfortunate when people speak as if the only good King is one who gives up his crown. In any eveny, Culture Minister Dino Gasperini was present at the unveiling and spoke of preserving the past for future generations. Is that a little frightening? That it will come down to a street sign to remind the youth that the Italian people once had a King and Queen? Of course, the assembled dignitaries also were sure to reassert their allegiance to the republican institutions of the country, just in case anyone might mistake this tribute for an actual sign of loyalty on their part. For a politician, the only thing worse than being caught doing the wrong thing, is to be caught doing the right thing. No, those assembled were assured that the republic is "safe" from any monarchists but that the House of Savoy should be remembered for their role in the Risorgimento and the creation of the modern, united Italy. He also had to say that these were "controversial" figures. Please. The only reason there is anything at all "controversial" about the May King and Queen is because republican politicians chose to make them so in order to help clear the way for their own power grab.
I am, of course, extremely pleased to see any tribute to the late King and Queen of Italy. I wish it was more significant that two avenues. I am only annoyed that the subject of the monarchy always has to be treated as if it is something dangerous, with the politicians reassuring everyone that they are republicans and that the monarchy was "controversial" and that they only do this for historical-educational reasons and certainly not because they have any affinity for the House of Savoy. Frankly, they should, especially if they are going to highlight the role the House of Savoy played in bringing Italy together. All patriotic Italians who love their country should be grateful to all those involved, including the House of Savoy, in the creation of the unified Italy. It was done under the House of Savoy and ever since 1946 it has been a case of republicans taking up space in a home built by someone else, someone they evicted in order to snatch their property. King Umberto II and Queen Marie Jose had every necessary quality to be an excellent monarch and consort and to guide Italy into the future in the post-war world they faced. Together, they represented a perfect balance between tradition and innovation and Italy could be so much more if all that had not been thrown away in one emotional, frantic effort by self-seeking people to throw away Italian history.


  1. Given how things are in the country at the moment, I cant help but see this as a small step forward, even if it is only a small one.

    Since the fall of the monarchy and the establishment of the republic in 1946, there has been little to no mention of the monarchy at all in Italian public and political life. Perhaps the only exception would be the Italian Monarchist Party that existed in the 1950s and '60s, that eventually split, (some fusing with the Movimento Sociale Italiano) and officially dissolved in the 1970s.

    There was even scant recognition of the day when the Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed (March 17th), that is a very recent innovation (which I'm sure you already know). And even during the festivities of the 150th anniversary of the Risorgimento, there was almost no talk of the merits of the House of Savoy in uniting the country. The most critical element - suppressed from the national conversation.

    So given all of that, I can't but consider a dedication of a street to the great King and Queen of May as a positive step. I see what you mean with regards to referring to his decision to abdicate as showing his good traits, but I also think it underscores how much better the monarchy was: as in, the heads of state under the monarchy were willing to sacrifice themselves for the good of the nation, while republican politicians would prefer to sell their souls for advancement.

    I have a particular affection for Umberto II. I'm glad there is finally some talk of him. His death and the fact that he was so ignored by the state is a tragic event.

    1. I am pleased when any attention is given to the Royal Family and the role of the monarchy in Italian history since, as you say, usually anything before 1946 is ignored (especially anything positive). But I am never satisfied. There should be streets like these in every single town and city. It is good that the monarchy is remembered but that is not sufficient. The monarchy must be restored!

  2. You know I agree with you one hundred percent. It would be a dream to one day see Amedeo succeed to the throne in Rome, with the Iron Crown of Lombardy, and be proclaimed King Amedeo I of Italy.