Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A new king for Croatia

May 18, 1941

Prince Aimone, Duke of Spoleto, a member of the Italian Royal Family, was designated as King of Croatia today, according to the New York Times and other news sources.  The Duke will "rule a race of Slavs whose obstinate pugnacious will to independence and whose determined nationalism is even more ancient than Savoy's."

The new kingdom of Croatia is "fully dependent on Italy and presumably Germany, for protection, self-defense and indeed, for its very existence."

The official designations of the new King were made in the "throne room of the palace," and it "was a scene of great dignity and color."  King Vittorio Emanuele was the first to enter the room.  He was followed by the Prince of Piedmont and other princes of the Royal House, including the Duke of Spoleto, who wore his admiral's uniform.

They were joined by Premier Mussolini and Foreign Minister Ciano, who took up positions at "the right of the throne." The Croatian delegation was headed by Ante Pavelich, who is the Croatian equivalent of El Duce.   Dr. Pavelitch asked King Vittorio Emanuele to designate the Duke of Spoleto as the new king of Croatia.   The Italian sovereign's address "was notable for its strong fascist terminology."

The King said: "The presence of a Prince of Savoy on the throne of the independent State of Croatia testifies to the will of your people to collaborate with Italy in the spirit of closest friendship.  We consider the rebirth o the Croat nation as a happy omen for the new order that is being affirmed in Europe.
"We designate our beloved nephew, His Royal Highness Aimone of Savoy-Aosta, Duke of Spoleto, to assume the crown of the kingdom of Croatia."

As the room began to empty out, the Prince of Piedmont "ostentatiously stepped back to allow the new King of Croatia to precede him, for his cousin was now of a higher rank."

The new King is expected to go to Zagreb "within the week for the coronation." He is what Americans would call " a good sport, figuratively and literally, for he is a pilot, polo player, automobile racer and explorer."    In 1939, he married Princess Irene of Greece and Denmark, who now becomes Queen of Croatia.

The Duke of Spoleto is the younger son of the late Duke of Aosta and his wife, Princess Helene of France.  His older brother is the present Duke of Aosta.   Princess Irene is the daughter of the late King Constantine and the late Queen Sophie of the Hellenes.  She has lived in Italy since 1922, following her father's abdication.  Her older sister, Princess Helen, is the former wife of King Carol of Roumania.

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