June 13, 2011 will mark the 65th anniversary of the sad farewell of King Umberto II to his beloved Italy. Savoy biographer Cristina Siccardi, in a fine article on Umberto's life, includes the noble last message he addressed to the Italian people upon departing into exile, following the dubious referendum that abolished the monarchy and established the republic. Here is a translation:
While the Country, barely emerged from a tragic war, sees her frontiers menaced, and her own unity in peril, I believe my duty is to do all that I still can in order that further sorrow and further tears may be spared the people who have already suffered so much.
I trust that the Magistrature, whose traditions of independence and liberty are among the glories of Italy, will be able to have its free say, but not wanting to oppose force to the abuse of power, nor to render myself complicit in the illegality that the government has committed, I leave the threshold of my Country, in the hope of averting from the Italians new struggles and new sorrows. Accomplishing this sacrifice in the supreme interest of the Fatherland, I feel the duty, as an Italian and as a King, to raise my protest against the violence which has been committed, a protest in the name of the Crown and of all the people, within and without the borders, who had the right to see its destiny decided with respect for the laws, and in such a manner as to dissipate every doubt and every suspicion.
For those who still maintain fidelity to the Monarchy, for those whose spirit rebels against injustice, I record my example, and I exhort them to avoid worsening the dissensions which would threaten the unity of the Country, fruit of the faith and the sacrifice of our fathers, and which could render more severe the conditions of the peace treaty.
With a spirit full of sorrow, but with the serene consciousness of having made every effort to carry out my duties, I leave my country. Let those who have taken the oath and kept faith through the hardest trials, consider themselves released from their oath of allegiance to the King, but not from their oath of allegiance to the Country. I think of all those who have fallen in the name of Italy, and I salute all the Italians. Whatever destiny awaits our Country, she will always be able to count on me, as on the most devoted of her sons.
Long live Italy!
June 13, 1946