Vittorio Emanuele, Prince of Naples

Vittorio Emanuele di Savoia
Prince of Naples;
Duke of Savoy (disputed)

Vittorio Emanuele in Geneva in 1964
Head of the House of Savoy
Pretence 18 March 1983 – present
Predecessor Umberto II[1]
Heir apparent Emanuele Filiberto, Prince of Venice
Born (1937-02-12) 12 February 1937
Naples, Italy
Spouse Marina Ricolfi-Doria (m. 1971)
Issue Emanuele Filiberto, Prince of Venice
House Savoy
Father Umberto II of Italy
Mother Marie-José of Belgium
Styles of
Vittorio Emanuele, Prince of Naples
Reference style His Royal Highness
Spoken style Your Royal Highness
Alternative style Sir
Italian Royal Family

HRH The Prince of Naples
HRH The Princess of Naples

HRH Princess Maria Pia
HRH Princess Maria Gabriella
HRH Princess Maria Beatrice

Vittorio Emanuele of Savoy, Prince of Naples (Vittorio Emanuele Alberto Carlo Teodoro Umberto Bonifacio Amedeo Damiano Bernardino Gennaro Maria di Savoia;[2][3] born 12 February 1937) is the only son of Umberto II, the last King of Italy. Titles associated with the former Italian royal family have not been legally recognised by the Italian government since Temporary Provision XIV was incorporated in the Constitution of Italy in 1946.

Vittorio Emanuele also uses the title Duke of Savoy and claims the headship of the House of Savoy. These claims are disputed by supporters of his third cousin, Amedeo, 5th Duke of Aosta.

He has lived for most of his life in exile – following the constitutional referendum of 1946 which affirmed the abolition of the monarchy and the creation of the Italian Republic.

On several occasions he has been the centre of controversy in Italy and abroad due to a series of incidents, including remarks that were seen by some as anti-semitic. He was revealed to be a member of Propaganda Due (P2), the state within a state responsible for high-level corruption and political manipulation.[4] In France he was tried on a murder charge, of which he was cleared of unlawful killing but convicted of a firearms offence. More recently, Vittorio Emanuele was arrested on 16 June 2006, following an investigation started by John Woodcock of the Public Prosecutor's Office in Potenza, Italy, on charges of criminal association, corruption and exploitation of prostitution.[5] A trial on these charges began in Potenza, Italy on 21 December 2009. Vittorio Emanuele di Savoia was acquitted of all charges in 2007 and 2010.[6][7]

Early life and family

Vittorio Emanuele and Marina Doria, Cape Canaveral, 16 July 1969

Vittorio Emanuele was born 12 February 1937 in Naples to Umberto, Prince of Piedmont, who would later become the last King of Italy as Umberto II, and Princess Marie-José of Belgium.[2][3] When Umberto II left Italy after the monarchy was abolished by the Italian constitutional referendum, 1946, the remaining members of the House of Savoy lived in exile, mostly in Switzerland and Portugal, though the former king Victor Emmanuel III, grandfather to Vittorio Emanuele, lived in Egypt until his death in 1947. Following the separation of the exiled ex-King and ex-Queen, Prince Vittorio Emanuele lived with his mother in an estate in Merlinge, Switzerland. Vittorio Emanuele and his family currently reside in Geneva.

After an 11-year relationship, Vittorio Emanuele married Swiss biscuit heiress and world-ranked water skier Marina Ricolfi-Doria in Tehran on 7 October 1971,[2] at the occasion of the 2,500 year celebration of Iran's monarchy.

Vittorio Emanuele has worked as a banker and an aircraft salesman, and then an arms dealer.[8]

Vittorio Emanuele has one son, Emanuele Filiberto, Prince of Venice, born on 22 June 1972,[2][3] who has two daughters.

Grand Masterships

When King Umberto II, left Italy, he purported to take the hereditary Grand Masterships of the dynastic orders of his royal house with him. These orders were the Ordine supremo della Santissima Annunziata (Supreme Order of the Most Holy Annunciation) and the Ordine dei Santi Maurizio e Lazzaro (Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus). Umberto II claimed to hold these until his death in 1983.

Duke of Savoy

On 7 July 2006 Vittorio Emanuele's kinsman and dynastic rival, Amedeo, 5th Duke of Aosta declared himself to be the head of the House of Savoy and Duke of Savoy, claiming that Vittorio Emanuele had lost his dynastic rights when he married without the permission of Umberto II in 1971. Amedeo has received the support of the President of the Council of the Senators of the Kingdom Aldo Alessandro Mol, and of Vittorio Emanuele's sister Princess Maria Gabriella of Savoy.

Vittorio Emanuele and his son have applied for judicial intervention to forbid Amedeo from using the title "Duke of Savoy". An initial hearing was scheduled in the court of Arezzo, with a ruling expected by 6 June 2006.[9]

Exile from and return to Italy

Reasons for exile

In line with certain other countries that were formerly monarchies, Italian law restricted the male line of the House of Savoy from entering Italy. This was enacted via a special constitutional "temporary disposition", in force from 1948.

Requests for return

Vittorio Emanuele lobbied the Parliament of Italy over the years in which the law prohibiting his return was in force, to be allowed to return to his homeland after 56 years in exile. In 1999, he filed a case at the European Court of Human Rights, in which the prince charged that his lengthy exile violated his human rights. In September 2001, the court decided to hold a hearing on the case at a date later to be fixed.[10]

In order to achieve a return to his homeland, he renounced any claim to the defunct throne and to Italy's crown jewels. He publicly assured the Italian government that the nation and the crown properties, confiscated by the State in 1946, "are no longer ours", referring to the House of Savoy. "For that matter we have no claim on the Crown jewels", he said. "We have nothing in Italy and we are not asking for anything". Vittorio Emanuele also dropped his case at the European Court of Human Rights. In February 2002, Vittorio Emanuele and his son Emanuele Filiberto wrote a signed letter, published through a law firm, in which they formally expressed their loyalty to the Constitution of Italy.[11]

Return to Italy

On 23 October 2002, the provision in the Constitution of Italy that barred male members of the former royal house from returning to Italy was repealed. As part of a deal with the government, Vittorio Emanuel signed an agreement recognizing the Republic as the valid government of the state and renouncing all claims to the defunct throne. Vittorio Emanuele was permitted to re-enter the country from 10 November 2002. On 23 December 2002, he made his first trip home in over half a century. On the one-day visit he, his wife and his son had a 20-minute audience with Pope John Paul II at the Vatican.[12]

Upon their first visit in 2003 to Naples, where Vittorio Emanuele was born, and from where his family sailed into exile in 1946, the reception of the Savoys was mixed; most people were indifferent to them, some hostile, a few supportive. The media reported that many in Naples were not happy to see the return of the family, when hundreds of noisy demonstrators chanted negative slogans as they progressed through the city.[8] Demonstrations were staged by two traditionally opposing factions: anti-monarchists on one hand, and supporters of the Bourbon Kings of the Two Sicilies, whose family was deposed when Italy was united in 1861 under the House of Savoy.[13]


Unilateral declaration of Kingship (1969)

Vittorio Emanuele unilaterally declared himself King of Italy on 15 December 1969.[14][15] He argued that by agreeing to submit to a referendum on his place as head of state, his father (Umberto II) had thereby abdicated. Vittorio Emanuele took this action after his father allegedly called for Amedeo, 5th Duke of Aosta to visit him in Portugal to name him his heir.[16] Under his self-assumed powers as King of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele conferred the title of Duchess of Sant'Anna di Valdieri on his then fiancée, Marina Doria.[17]

Dirk Hamer's death (1978–2015)

On the night of 17 August or the morning of 18 August 1978, on the island of Cavallo (which lies off the south coast of Corsica), Vittorio Emanuele discovered his yacht's rubber dinghy had been taken and attached to another nearby yacht. Arming himself with a rifle, he attempted to board the vessel. He shot at a passenger he had awakened; the shot missed the passenger but mortally wounded Dirk Hamer (the nineteen-year-old son of Ryke Geerd Hamer), a passenger sleeping on the deck of another adjacent yacht. The prince admitted civil liability for the death in a letter dated 28 August 1978.[18] Dirk Hamer died of his wounds on 7 December 1978, and Vittorio Emanuele was arrested.

On 11 October 1989, Vittorio Emanuele was indicted on charges of inflicting lethal injury and possession of a dangerous weapon. But on 18 November 1991, after thirteen years of legal proceedings, the Paris Assize Court acquitted him of the fatal wounding and unintentional homicide charges, finding him guilty only of unauthorised possession of an M1 Garand rifle.[18] He received a six-month suspended prison sentence.[19]

When incarcerated in June 2006, on unconnected charges of corruption (see below, "Arrest and imprisonment"), Vittorio Emanuele was recorded admitting that "I was in the wrong, [...] but I must say I fooled them [the French judges]",[20] leading to a call from Dirk Hamer's sister Birgit for Vittorio Emanuele to be retried in Italy for killing her brother.[21]

Birgit Hamer undertook a long legal fight to the obtain the full video. She stated: "What for us is a confession is a boast for him: he laughs about the fact that he killed a boy."[22][23] The story of the video was broken by aristocratic journalist Beatrice Borromeo,[24] who also wrote the preface for a book on the murder Delitto senza castigo by Birgit Hamer. Vittorio Emanuele sued the newspaper for defamation, claiming the video had been manipulated. In 2015 a court judgement ruled in favor of the newspaper.[25] On Twitter Borromeo posted: "Vincere una causa e' sempre piacevole, ma contro Vittorio Emanuele di Savoia la goduria e' doppia!" ("Winning a case is always nice, but against Victor Emmanuel of Savoy the pleasure is double"),[26] which resulted in a spat on Twitter with his son Emanuele Filiberto.[25]

Allegations of anti-semitism (2003)

Vittorio Emanuele also said in recent years that the anti-Semitic laws passed under Mussolini's regime were "not that terrible".[27][28] Other senior members of the House of Savoy have also in the past downplayed the significance of the anti-Jewish laws signed by Vittorio Emmanuele's grandfather . "I'm not saying it was he who signed the racial laws in 1938. But, as a Savoy heir, Victor Emmanuel has never distanced himself from them," the president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, Amos Luzzatto, said in an interview with Il Corriere della Sera newspaper.[29]

On 27 January 2005, in a letter published by Il Corriere della Sera, Vittorio Emanuele issued an apology to Italy's Jewish leadership asking forgiveness from the Italian Jewish community, and declaring that it was an error for the Italian Royal Family to have signed the racial laws of 1938.[30]

Fight with Amedeo (2004)

On 21 May 2004, following a dinner held by King Juan Carlos I of Spain held at the Zarzuela Palace on the eve of the wedding of his son Felipe, Prince of Asturias, Vittorio Emanuele punched his third cousin and arch-rival Amedeo, Duke of Aosta, twice in the face, causing him to fall down the steps.[31][32] Former Queen Anne-Marie of Greece caught Amedeo to prevent him further injuring himself and helped him indoors, stanching his bleeding face until first aid could be administered. Upon learning of the incident, Juan Carlos, a cousin of both men, reportedly declared that "never again" would an opportunity to abuse his hospitality be afforded to the competing pretenders.[32]

Arrest and imprisonment (2006)

On 16 June 2006 he was arrested in Varenna and imprisoned in Potenza on charges of corruption and recruitment of prostitutes for clients of the Casinò di Campione of Campione d'Italia.[33][34][35]

The enquiry was conducted by Italian magistrate John Woodcock, of British ancestry, famous for other VIPs' arrests.[36][37][38]

After several days, Vittorio Emanuele was released and placed under house-arrest instead.[39] He was released from house-arrest on 20 July 2006, but he had to stay within the borders of Italy. He was now free to leave Italy but he was still under investigation. Vittorio Emanuele di Savoia was acquitted of all charges in the years 2007 and 2010.[6]

La Repubblica reported in 2006 that Emanuele Filiberto had distanced himself from his father.[40]

Seeking compensation from Italy (2007)

In 2007, Vittorio Emanuele and his son Emanuele Filiberto requested formally that the state pay financial damages of 260 million euros and initiate full restitution of all properties and belongings that had been confiscated from the royal house after the abolition of the monarchy. The financial damages claim is based on having suffered moral injustice during the exile. The Italian government has rejected the request and, in response, indicated that it may seek damages for historic grievances.[41]


National dynastic honours

National honours

Foreign honours


Patrilineal descent


  1. Line of succession to the former Italian throne
  2. 1 2 3 4 Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels, Fürstliche Häuser XIV. "Haus Italien". C.A. Starke Verlag, 1997, pp. 33, 38–39. ISBN 3-7980-0814-0.
  3. 1 2 3 Willis, Daniel, The Descendants of Louis XIII, Clearfield Co., Inc., Baltimore, Maryland, 1999, p. 673. ISBN 0-8063-4942-5.
  4. Hooper, John (23 June 2006). "The fall of the house of Savoy". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  5. Popham, Peter (17 June 2006). "Son of Italy's last king held over Mafia and prostitution claims". The Independent. Retrieved 10 April 2008. The son of Italy's last king, Prince Victor Emmanuel, has been arrested in the north Italian town of Lecco as part of an investigation into charges he was involved with the Sicilian Mafia and a prostitution racket.
  6. 1 2 Savoiagate, Vittorio Emanuele assolto. Retrieved on 26 July 2015.
  7. "Videopoker, assolto Vittorio Emanuele". Corriere della Sera. 22 September 2010.
  8. 1 2 Popham, Peter (22 June 2006). "The prince and the prostitutes". The Independent. Retrieved 10 April 2008. Selling helicopters to his high and mighty friends was one of the prince's successful projects, from which he went on to become an arms dealer.
  9. Meylan, Vincent (21 May 2008). "Duc d'Aoste ou Duc de Savoie?". Point de Vue: 79.
  10. Victor Emmanuel de Savoie v. Italy, 656 to hold a hearing on the merits of the admissible complaints on a date to be fixed subsequently (European Court of Human Rights 21 September 2001).
  11. "Vittorio Emanuele di Savoia: "Fedeltà alla Costituzione"" (in Italian). La Repubblica. 2 February 2002. Retrieved 10 April 2008.
  12. Willan, Philip (24 December 2002). "Exiled Italian royals go home". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 April 2008.
  13. Johnston, Bruce (8 January 2008). "Italy's exiled royal family shunned as they return". Retrieved 24 April 2008.
  14. Royal Decree No. 1.
  15. Pro Veritate analysis n.1 by Prof. Edoardo Adami.
  16. Gigi Speroni, Umberto II, Milan, Riscoli Libri
  17. Pro Veritate analysis n.2 by Prof. Edoardo Adami.
  18. 1 2 HAMER v. FRANCE – 19953/92 [1996] ECHR 30 (7 August 1996). Retrieved on 26 July 2015.
  19. Summary of trial proceedings concerned the killing of Dirk Hamer.
  20. (Italian) Vittorio Emanuele, cimici in cella "Ho fregato i giudici francesi"
  21. Prince's braggadocio spurs call for justice. 12 September 2006
  22. Prince Victor Emmanuel of Savoy "admits killing of German teenager on secret video recording five years ago", Daily Mail, 28 February 2011;
  23. Follain, John Prince admits killing on video, The Sunday Times, 27 February 2011;
  24. Borromeo, Beatrice Il video che incastra Savoia, Il Fatto Quotidiano, 24 February 2011;
  25. 1 2 Beatrice Borromeo, el azote de los Saboya, Hola, 10 March 2015;
  26. "Beatrice Borromeo on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2016-03-10.
  27. "Italy's Jews wait for royal apology" (The Observer (UK), 18 May 2003). "It was a rocky start for what was intended as a romantic trip down memory lane for Italy's exiled royal family, the Savoys, who returned to Rome last week to meet government officials, only to be greeted by angry Italian Jews still waiting for an apology for the royals' anti-Semitic leanings during the Second World War. Some five years ago, Victor Emmanuel made headlines when he said in an interview that the race laws were 'not so bad'".
  28. Leyland, Joanne (18 June 2006) Former King of Italy's Son Arrested . The Royalist
  29. "An Englishman in Auschwitz and other Holocaust articles", Tom Gross, 18 June 2003
  30. Stephen Roth Institute: Antisemitism And Racism. 2005
  31. Hooper, John (29 May 2004) Right royal punch-up at Spanish prince's wedding. Guardian. Retrieved on 26 July 2015.
  32. 1 2 McIntosh, David (December 2005). "The Sad Demise of the House of Savoy". European Royal History Journal. Arturo E. Beeche. 8.6 (XLVIII): 3–6.
  33. Arrest and jail. Retrieved on 26 July 2015.
  34. Arrested Italy prince goes from palace to jail. MSNBC (17 June 2006). Retrieved on 2015-07-26.
  35. The Prince and the prostitutes. Retrieved on 26 July 2015.
  36. VIP arrests by Woodstock. June 2006.
  37. «Mandami su il pacco con la ragazza» – La Stampa. (17 June 2006). Retrieved on 2015-07-26.
  38. Vittorio Emanuele, cimici in cella "Ho fregato i giudici francesi" – cronaca. (9 September 2006). Retrieved on 2015-07-26.
  39. House arrest
  40. Emanuele Filiberto si dissocia dal padre "Non condivido tutto quello che ha fatto" – cronaca. Retrieved on 26 July 2015.
  41. Stewart, Phil (21 November 2007). "Fallen savoy royals seek damages over Italy exile". Reuters.
  42. document about Vittorio Emmanuelle's sovereignty
  43. Vittorio Emmanuelle wearing the Great Collar
  44. Vittorio Emmanuel wearing the Badge as a Medal
  46. document about Vittorio Emmanuelle's sovereignty
  48. document about Vittorio Emmanuelle's sovereignty
  49. wearing the star at the top
  51. 1 2 Royal Website, document about Vittorio Emmanuelle's sovereignty of the Military and civil orders
  52. wearing the star of the civil order at the bottom
  53. Vittorio Emmanuel confers the order
  57. Nomination by Sovereign Ordonnance n° 15702 of 1 March 2003 (French)
  58. Badraie. Badraie. Retrieved on 26 July 2015.
  59. Celebraciones de Persépolis 1971 – VII. 19 May 2012.


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Vittorio Emanuele, Prince of Naples
Born: 12 February 1937
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
Umberto II
King of Italy
18 March 1983 – present
Reason for succession failure:
Monarchy abolished in 1946
Emanuele Filiberto
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