Saturday, February 3, 2024

Prince Vittorio Emanuele of Savoy (1937-2024)


HRH Prince Vittorio Emanuele of Savoy, the Prince of Naples, died today in Geneva, Switzerland.  He was 86 years old.

The late prince was the second of four children and only son of King Umberto of Italy and Princess Marie José of Belgium.  He was born in Naples on February  12, 1937, and was named Vittorio Emanuele Alberto Carlo Teodoro Umberto Bonifacio Amedeo Damiano Bernardino Gennaro Maria di Savoia

all four images Marlene A Eilers Koenig Collection.

Vittorio Emanuele's grandfather, King Vittorio Emanuele III abdicated on May 9, 1946.  He was succeeded by his only, Umberto, who reigned for 34 days and was known as the May King.  A referendum was held on June 2, where Italian citizens voted overwhelmingly for a republic.  Umberto II's reign ended on June 12. 

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The Italian royal family went into exile after Italy became a republic. The King and Queen separated and Vittorio Emanuele and his three sisters, Maria Pia (1934),  Maria Gabriella (1940), and Maria Beatrice (1943) lived with their mother in Geneva, Switzerland.   King Umberto joined his mother, Queen Elena in Merlinge, Switzerland before moving to Portugal. 

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Vittorio Emanuele and his longtime Swiss biscuit heiress girlfriend, Marina Ricolfi-Doria, eloped to Las Vegas where they were married in a civil ceremony on January 11, 1970.  It is said that the late King Umberto II did not approve of Vittorio Emanuele's marriage.  The couple married again on October 7, 1971, in a Roman Catholic church in Tehran, Iran.   The Prince was a close friend of the late Shah of Iran.

The couple had one son, Prince Emanuel Filiberto, Prince of Venice, born in Geneva on June 12, 1972.

Vittorio Emanuele's marriage did not receive the approbation of his father.  As early as July 1963, when the prince and Miss Doria discussed marriage in an interview with Oggi, an Italian magazine,  Umberto made it clear in a letter to his son, that he was "solely motivated by my affection for you and my desire to assure for you the best for the future, but one which cannot contrast with the way we have always done things in our family."

Umberto would not agree to his son's marriage to a commoner.  This was not Vittorio Emanuele's first romance that ran afoul of his father.  In 1960, he wanted to marry a French woman, Dominique Claudel, the granddaughter of French poet Paul Claudel.  In a letter to his son, dated January 25, 1960,
Umberto was adamant that he would not consent to the marriage.  He wrote: "You would be deprived of any right to succeed as Head of the House of Savoy and as pretender to Italy's throne, losing your titles and ranking and finding yourself in the reduced position as a private citizen."

In his detailed letter, Umberto reminded his son that if he did marry Miss Claudel, his rights would pass to Prince Amedeo, the Duke of Aosta.

[in my opinion, the Duke of Aosta, who was the son of Prince Aimone of Savoy, Duke of Aosta, and Princess Irene of Greece and Denmark, succeeded King Umberto II as head of the House of Savoy and de jure king of Italy, a position now held by his son, Prince Aimone, Duke of Aosta, who is married to Princess Olga of Greece.  

Vittorio Emanuele's three sisters also supported the late  Duke of Aosta as their father's heir.  King Simeon of Bulgaria, who was one of the executors of King Umberto's will, has commented to family members that he would not recognize Vittorio Emanuele, his first cousin as the new head of the House of Savoy.  Simeon's mother, Giovanna was King Umberto's older sister.  ]

Italian law barred King Umberto II, who died in 1983, and his male heirs from returning to Italy.  This law was repealed in 2003.  Vittorio Emanuele was required to renounce his right to the throne before he could visit his homeland. On March 16, 2003, Vittorio Emanuele returned to Italy for the first time since June 1946.  He was accompanied by his wife and son. 

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In 1978, the late prince was charged with the accidental shooting of 19-year-old Dirk Hammer, a German national.  He was eventually acquitted of the charges to the disdain of Hamer's family, who continues to contest the verdict, which is at the nucleus of a recent Netflix documentary, The King Who Never Was.

In 1991,  Vittorio Emanuele was one of 900 members of the "outlawed secret masonic lodge Propaganda 2 (P2), a group at the heart of many of Italy's scandals of the late 20th century," according to Reuters. 

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He was acquitted of racketeering and prostitution charges in 2006.

Prince Vittorio Emanuele is survived by his widow, Marina, their son Emanuele Filiberto, his two daughters, Princess Vittoria and Princess Luisa, his sisters, Princesses Maria Pia, Maria Gabriella and Maria Beatrice, and numerous nieces and nephews.

Prince Vittorio Emanuele's funeral will take on February 10, 2024, at 3 p.m., at the Basilica of Superga in Turin.

1 comment:

Andrea said...

His only Umberto?