Thursday, May 13, 2021

Princess Laetitia defies Italian King


May 13, 1911

The Duchess of Aosta has "openly defied" King Victor Emanuele of Italy to arrest her son, Prince Umberto, Count of Salemi, who has been accused of "petty thefts at the navy academy" in Livorno, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The 21-year-old prince is the only child of the King's  late Prince Amadeo, Duke of Aosta, and Princess Maria Laetitia Bonaparte

For some time, the naval academy has been "disturbed by a series of pilferings belonging to cadets and professors."  A night porter was originally suspected of carrying out the thefts based on "purely presumptive evidence."

The thefts continued after the porter had been dismissed. The naval academy established a more "systematic inquiry" to catch the thief.   A watch was established, which is how Count Salemi was detained after he had been seen in a clockroom taking a purse with money that had been placed in that spot to trap the thief.

The academy tried to hush up the accusations against Prince Umberto but gradually word of his discomfiture reaches "the ears" of the king, who ordered that the prince "be treated as any ordinary cadet would be treated under similar circumstances."

This decision did not sit well with Umberto's mother who arrived at Livorno because the king's command could be implemented.  She had to use a combination of threats and persuasion to take custody of her son and drove him "with all possible speed to Turin." 

The Duchess continues to defy the king and the naval academy officials by refusing to bring her son back to Livorno, preferring to dole out her own punishment.

Princess Maria Laetitia Bonaparte was born in 1866, one of three children of Prince Napoleon and Princess Maria Clotilde of Savoy.   She nearly married her first cousin, Prince Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy, later the Duke of Aosta. The marriage never happened and Emanuele Filberto married Princess Helene of Orleans.  In September 1888, she married Emanuele Filiberto's father, Prince Amedo, the Duke of Aosta, who was also her maternal uncle.  The pope provided a papa dispensation on the grounds of consanguinity. 

The Duke of Aosta was 22 years older than his wife.   The couple settled in Turin, where Laetitia gave birth to her only child, Umberto, on June 22, 1889.    

The duke of Aosta died on January 18, 1890.

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