Vittorio Emanuele di Savoia, the son of the last king of Italy, named his granddaughter heir to the throne, albeit a defunct one. The 84-year-old changed the rules, which state that succession in the royal family passes to the male descendants, preferably the eldest son. Instead, he decided to declare his 17-year-old granddaughter Vittoria Cristina Chiara Adelaide Maria, who now lives in France, the first woman to lead the Savoy dynasty.
The news didn’t go well with other members of the family, who accused the Duke of Savoy of violating a centuries-old law. "Totally illegitimate", said his cousin and heir of the Duke of Aosta, Prince Aimone, Duke of Apulia, who works for the Pirelli tyre company in Moscow. The Aosta branch claims Vittoria’s accession would be invalid and argues that the laws could be changed only after the monarchy was restored in Italy.
However, the father of the would-be monarch insists that the decree was legitimate.
"They were thinking that since I do not have any sons, they would finally have what they had been waiting for, for 150 years. They got screwed. And they got pissed off," said Vittorio Emanuele's son, Emanuele Filiberto.
Paolo Castagno, a historian from Carignano near Turin, insists the change of law is purely financially motivated. Only the heirs to the throne are able to bestow honours, so titles can be distributed in exchange for payments to the family. "They are the ones getting invited to royal weddings," said Castagno.
The House of Savoy dismissed the allegations that financial gain is behind the change.
From Blogger to Queen
The 17-year-old Vittoria Cristina Chiara Adelaide Maria, who has almost 36,000 followers on Instagram , said she was happy to receive such a birthday present from her grandfather. "It was the best gift he could give me," she said. The girl said the concept of monarchy is "abstract" and said she is trying to figure out what she wants to do in life. One of the projects she is currently working on is a fashion brand.
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Asked whether Italy is ready for its monarchy to return, Vittoria, who lives in Paris, said "Italy is not really progressive" and added "but they will learn".
Vittoria’s father has already begun preparing her for royal life. According to the New York Times, Emanuele Filiberto helped her daughter with the speech on the rights of school students in France. The speech, which was addressed to French President Emmanuel Macron, was viewed on social media almost 300,000 times.