While the titles and honours of the Italian royal family have not legally been recognised since 1946, when the republic was founded, Prince Victor Emmanuel, 70, has ruled over the House of Savoy since the death of his father, Umberto II, in 1983.Oh, and it seems as though a portrait of Lady Jane Grey has been discovered.
However, his cousin Amedeo, 63, the 5th Duke D'Aosta, strenuously maintains it is he, not Victor Emmanuel, who is the true heir to the defunct monarchy.
Last summer, Amedeo declared that he had changed his name to Savoy and would assume power. However, his attempt to seize control will be fiercely fought by Victor Emmanuel in a closed hearing at a court in Arezzo at an undisclosed date this month.
Victor Emmanuel has said Amedeo's membership of the dynasty has now been cancelled, "because of his gravely injurious behaviour towards the honour of our royal person." In addition, he denounced Amedeo and his son Aimone to the court for usurping the name of Savoy and the position of family head.
Amedeo believes his cousin gave up the right to call himself Umberto II's heir when he married a Swiss biscuit heiress and champion water-skier without his father's permission in 1971.
To back up his claim, he has produced letters between Umberto and Victor Emmanuel, in which the last king warned his son about the consequences of marriage without his express permission.
"It could bring about the loss of all your rights to succeed as Head of the House of Savoy and your claim to the throne of Italy, reducing you to the status of a private citizen," wrote Umberto. When Umberto heard that Victor Emmanuel had married Marina Doria secretly in Las Vegas, he wrote again in panic, reminding him "word for word" of what he had said.
His sister, Princess Maria Gabriella, has switched her allegiance and is backing Amedeo's claim. "My father asked to be buried along with the royal seal, and that was his way of showing that the dynasty ended with him," she said.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
The royalists among my readership will be interested in the following story from the Telegraph: