Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Interview with Princess Maria Gabriella

This month, it seems appropriate as usual to remember the May King and May Queen of Italy. Here is an interesting interview (in Italian) of their second daughter, charming Princess Maria Gabriella, the historian of the family.  After the exile of the house of Savoy, in 1946, and their move to Portugal, Maria Gabriella's parents separated; their three daughters remained in Cascais with their father, while their son lived in Switzerland with his mother. The princesses only visited the Queen about once a year! An affectionate and attentive parent, the King raised his daughters with the help of an Irish governess. Maria Gabriella absorbed her father's humanitarianism, his concern for the poor and the needy, along with her mother's intellectualism, her love of beauty and culture. The King and Queen had different approaches to their faith. Umberto was a deeply observant Roman Catholic. Maria José, although a sincere Christian, also felt the need to explore other religions and philosophies. (In this respect, she reminds me of her mother, Queen Elisabeth of Belgium). She was interested in yoga. Maria Gabriella, however, followed her father's example, always remaining traditional in her spirituality. Her devotion to her faith would prevent her from accepting the hand of the Shah of Iran, Mohamed Reza Pahlavi, who proposed marriage to the Italian princess during her youth, on condition that she publicly abjure Catholicism and convert to Islam. Although assured that she could continue to practice her Catholic faith privately after her marriage, Maria Gabriella declined the Shah's proposal. (Thank goodness, as she would otherwise have been swept up in the Iranian Revolution!) The Savoys, however, remained on friendly terms with Reza Pahlavi. Like her mother, Queen Maria José, Maria Gabriella has since devoted her life to researching and illuminating the history of her family, becoming a guardian of the memory of the house of Savoy.

4 comments:

MadMonarchist said...

This was interesting, and thank you for pointing out the faith of the last King and Queen. For some reason alot of people seem to think all the Savoys were irreligious or even anti-Catholic and that is simply absurd. All were staunch Catholics, not a few were even devout ones, yet certain issues or individuals seem to cause many to paint them with a broad brush.

Matterhorn said...

Yes, the Savoys are victims of prejudices similar to those which the Orléans face.

MadMonarchist said...

That is the comparison I was trying to think of. There were unsavory characters of course, as with any family over such a long history, but the Savoy have long been one of the great Catholic houses of Europe and I hate to see the very faithful members brushed aside or forgotten. I think of Carlo Emanuele IV who gave up his crown to be a Jesuit or Maria Theresa of Austria (VE2's mom) who was always stressing traditional Catholic principles to her husband and children like Maria Pia who married the King of Portugal, a saintly woman and even to read the letters between the Pope and Vittorio Emanuele II one can see that things were not so clear-cut with him. I should probably write a post about it -sorry to go on so but this stuff bothers me.

Matterhorn said...

Yes, you should indeed write a post on it! Thank you.