Monday, May 9, 2016

Vittorio Emanuele abdicates

May 9, 1946

King Vittorio Emanuele III of Italy has "bowed to the inevitable" and abdicated his throne today.  He was king for forty-five years and nine months.  He signed the act of abdication in favor of his only son Crown Prince Umberto, the Prince of Piedmont.

The new king will be styled as Umberto II.  He will take the oath as king tomorrow, and will also make a publication proclamation, reports the New York Times.  Umberto is already king, and his father is already at sea "into exile, probably in Egypt."

Vittorio Emanuele and Queen Elena left Posillipo at 7:30 p.m., and boarded the cruiser Luigi di Savoia Duca degli Abruzzi.  The cruiser is said to be en route to Egypt, and is escorted by two destroyers.

The news of the king's abdication "spread through Rome this evening," with little fanfare, and "roused little reaction."

Only 300 people turned up for a monarchist demonstration outside the palace this evening.   Another group of about 100 monarchists, mostly sailors, moved through the city, cheering and waving the flags of the House of Savoy.  There was some discussion on whether they should process to the Quirinal, but their "leaders persuaded them to disband on the ground that they were too few," and should return tomorrow for a possible larger demonstration.

The king's abdication had been rumored for the past three months, and in the last month, it had "become a virtual certainty."   Vittorio Emanuele has always been "notoriously stubborn,"  and has been "freely criticized in monarchist circles as selfish" for his refusal to abdicate, although it was seen as the only way of "preserving the monarchy."

Umberto may be as unpopular as his father, but at least he does not "bear the ultimate burden of responsibility for the past twenty-five years' events in Italy."

This morning, Umberto flew to Naples to have a final meeting with his father before meeting with government officials including Premier de Gasperi at the Quirinal.

As King, Vittorio Emanuele had "moments of popularity," during his reign.  In 1929, cheering crowds were outside the Quirinal when he arrived "at an agreement with the Vatican" ending nearly 50 years of hostility between the Italian government and the Holy See.

Umbero is a "more popular figure" but the Left will not let anyone forget that he "never showed marked disapproval of the Fascist regime while it was still prospering."

King Umberto has been married to Princess Marie José of Belgium since 1930, who now becomes Queen.  Marie José is the sister of King Leopold III of the Belgians.

The King and Queen have four children:  Princess Maria Pia, 11, Prince Vittorio Emanuele, 9,  Princess Maria Gabriella, 6, and three-year-old Princess Maria Beatrice.

The young Vittorio Emanuele, has the title Prince of Naples, and is now the heir apparent to the Italian throne.

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