Uneasy lies the head that almost wears a crown.
Seems that the heir apparent to the Italian throne, Vittorio Emanuele, Head of the Royal House of Savoy, Prince of Naples and Duke of Savoy, (also heir to throne of Kingdom of Jerusalem, a crusader state which became defunct a thousand years ago), who is the eldest son of the last king of Italy, is being plagued by an annoying third cousin. This cousin, Prince Amedeo of Savoy, Duke of Aosta, began to dispute the legitimacy of Vittorio’s claim to the Italian throne a few years ago.
You might think this a tempest in a teapot since the Italian monarchy was abolished decades ago. Nonetheless, when you are heir to a throne, I guess you have to defend your title. Sort of like a prize fighter, except it matters far less to people.
Prince Vittorio Emanuele (Prince of Naples and Duke of Savoy), Princess Marina of Savoy (the Swiss biscuit heiress described below), and family arrive at the funeral of Monaco’s Prince Rainier III at Monaco Cathedral on April 15, 2005 in Monte Carlo, Monaco.
In addition to being a biscuit heiress, Princess Marina was a world renown water skier and feature attraction at Cypress Gardens. She seems one of the few people in the House of Savoy who actually achieved fame on her own through hard work.
photo courtesy http://floridamemory.com/fpc/commerce/c681418.jpg
Prince Amedeo says that when Vittorio Emanuele married a Swiss biscuit heiress in 1971, he did so without the permission of the head of the Royal House of Savoy, King Humberto II, who was Vittorio’s father. Hence, he forfeited all of his Royal titles and status.
King Humberto only reigned for two weeks. His father Victor Emanuel III, who had not covered himself in glory during his own reign, abdicated in favor of his son a few weeks before a national referendum in Italy in May of 1949 on retaining the monarchy. (The monarchy was voted out by 54%. Many Italian royalists say the referendum was rigged with various groups, including the USA, being accused of this foul deed)
Vittorio Emanuele says he had his father’s permission to marry into the wealthy biscuit family and that Amedeo’s accusations just ain’t so (even though Vittorio’s sister says she supports Amedeo’s claim and not her brother’s which could be interpreted by those lacking in Christian charity that she is not getting her share of biscuits.)
Vittorio became so frosted about Amedeo’s lies, that some years ago during a very formal dinner in honor of the marriage of the eldest son of King Juan Carlos of Spain, Vittorio leaned over the table and punched Amedeo twice in the face. (He almost fell backwards but was caught by the former Queen of Greece).
This angered Amedeo and I think we can all certainly see why. Who wants to be punched, must less at a formal dinner with lots of other royals hanging about. Amedeo responded to being punched by proclaiming himself Duke of Savoy, the title traditionally held by the heir apparent to the Italian throne, as well as the Head of the Royal House of Savoy. However, there is an issue here. Vittorio holds these titles.
So Vittorio Emanuele responded by expelling Amedeo from the Royal House of Savoy for “behavior injurious to the honor of our Royal Person.” And good for him, I say, although “honor” is a tricky word for him to use since he’s had a few problems with the law.
For instance, twelve years ago in France, Vittorio Emanuele was tried for murder, of which he was cleared. Admittedly, from a PR point of view, this doesn’t work in his favor but lots of people are charged with murder so let’s look beyond this episode and not be petty and small about it.
Alas, “the honor of our Royal Person” took another blow just a few years after the person of the “Royal Person” was acquitted on charges of murder.
Seems that in 2006, in a situation most unfortunate to “our Royal Person,” the Italian Carabinieri, a paramilitary police force created by the House of Savoy, arrested Vittorio in Italy on charges of criminal association, corruption, forgery, and the operating a ring of prostitution. (Such a lack of loyalty on the part of the Carabinieri!)
I’m certain they are more fearsome than they appear in this photo.
Allegedly committing these crimes was quick work on Vittorio’s part since, under the Italian constitution, the male members of the Royal House of Savoy were not even allowed to step foot on the soil of Italy until 2002.
So he managed to allegedly commit all these crimes in four years. Let’s be upfront here: this crime spree is hard to overlook. In fact, its practically impossible. Fortunately for the supporters of the Italian monarchy, of whom there must be at least several hundred, his Royal Person was acquitted of all these charges in 2009.
Still going strong (must be something in those biscuits), Vittorio celebrated his 77th birthday in February of 2014 and he wasn’t even in jail.
Let us go back for a moment to third cousin Amedeo. All he is saying is that he is just trying to restore the honor of the dynasty and, you know, I think most of us would sympathize with him. Alas, he has a few problems of his own.
Although a devout Roman Catholic, he divorced his first wife, who was the daughter of a minor claimant to the throne of France and hence of royal lineage, and married a woman who doesn’t even have the distinctions of being of royal lineage or of being a biscuit heiress or of being a former water skiing star at Cypress Gardens.
In fact, she is only the daughter of a Marchese or Marquis, which isn’t very high up the ladder of nobility as these things go.
And then there is the matter of Amedeo’s illegitimate child ……So who has more honor? Vittorio or Amedeo? My opinion? In the great scheme of life, who cares?
The only person in this entire group who seems sane is Vittorio Emanuele’s son, Filiberto of Savoy, (Prince of Venice and of Piedmont), who has become a hedge fund manager in Geneva.