Saturday, May 9, 2009

Accession of Umberto II & Marie-José


Today marks the 63rd anniversary of the accession of King Umberto II and his Belgian-born wife, Queen Marie-José, to the Italian throne. On May 9, 1946, Umberto's father, King Victor Emmanuel III, discredited for his perceived compliance with the fascist regime of Mussolini, abdicated in his son's favor. Only weeks later, on June 12, 1946, the Italian monarchy would be abolished (following a plebiscite on June 2), and the House of Savoy would be on the road to exile. The brief reign of Umberto and Marie-José earned them the nicknames of "May King" and "May Queen." 

Upon her accession, Marie-José was highly skeptical about the monarchy's future, but hoped, nonetheless, to be able to assist her people, emerging from the devastation of World War II. With her husband's collaboration, she prepared a moving address to the Italian women; it reveals her ideals and goals during this period. Political circumstances prevented Marie-José from delivering the address, but it shows her great love of her people and her strong sense of royal duty. I think she would have made a wonderful Queen Consort; it is a pity her reign was so brief.

4 comments:

MadMonarchist said...

She was probably the best Queen Italy never had. I have to honestly say I've never been able to look at the Savoys quite the same after their history of shifting camps but it does seem very unfair that they had to take the fall for Mussolini when so many of the public were all for him when he first came to power. Then, not only did the King have to pay but all his descendants after him as well. Even Mussolini's family was not treated so badly.

Matterhorn said...

Yes, and Marie-José, for her part, had actually worked against the fascist regime by attempting, during the war, through secret diplomatic channels in the Vatican, to prepare the way for Italy to detach itself from Hitler and make a separate peace with the Allies. Although Umberto did not act himself, so as not to directly go against his father, he knew about his wife's efforts, and supported them in private.

radical royalist said...

This is a very valuable posting. King Umberto remained so dignified, even in his darkest days. Very good of you to remember his accession to the Italian throne. Thank you.

Matterhorn said...

Thanks for the comment!