I’m rapidly finding the saga of the Italian royals fascinating — despite the fact their throne is non-existent!
A couple of weeks ago, I told you how Vittoria di Savoia, a 17-year-old schoolgirl who lives in Paris, has suddenly been thrust into the spotlight after succession laws were changed.
The teenage “influencer” with 40,000 Instagram followers has been anointed heir to the defunct crown after her grandfather, Prince Vittorio Emanuele, son of the last king, Umberto II, changed an ancient law, which had stipulated that the royal line could only pass to male heirs.
It means Vittoria, who has stunning model looks, is now second in line behind her father, Prince Emanuele Filiberto, in the House of Savoy.
But the change upset a rival branch of the dynasty, the Dukes of Aosta, who have long competed with their cousins for superiority.
And now the Mafia-style family intrigue has been stoked up again with the death at 77 of Prince Amedeo, Duke of Aosta, Vittorio’s third cousin.
For years, he claimed to be the rightful heir to the throne after suggestions the last King, Umberto II, wanted him to succeed him because the King objected to his son marrying a commoner, Swiss biscuit manufacturer heiress and water skier Marina Doria.
(I know this is complicated but it’s worth it!)
While Prince Vittorio Emanuele staggered from one scandal to another — he was acquitted of manslaughter after shooting a teenager on board a yacht in Corsica — the Duke of Aosta did at least live in Italy.
The feud reached a peak in 2004 at the wedding celebrations of Prince Felipe of Spain (now King) in Madrid, when Vittorio Emanuele punched Amedeo twice in the face, sending him tumbling down steps in front of horrified guests.
Queen Anne-Marie of Greece saved him from more than a face wound by breaking his fall.
In 2006, Amedeo declared himself Duke of Savoy and started selling wine with labels bearing the royal crest from his Tuscan villa.
But he suffered a setback in 2010 when a court ruled the royal title could only be used by Vittorio Emanuele and his heirs, and ordered Amedeo to pay 200,000 Euros compensation.
When Vittoria was recently declared heir, the decision was denounced by Amedeo’s 53-year-old son, Prince Aimone, as “illegitimate.”
But Emanuele Filiberto hit back saying: “They were thinking that me, not having any sons, they would finally win, but they got screwed.”
Royal experts say the Italian heirs to the throne control noble titles in exchange for lucrative payments, so it seems likely the bad blood will continue for some time yet!