A Parisian teenager has made a claim to a throne that doesn’t exist, in a country that barely knows her name, and that speaks a language she’s largely unfamiliar with.
Italy hasn’t had a monarchy since the end of the Second World War. The last king of Italy, Umberto II, was only in power for a month before a formal referendum to end the monarchy was made law. The fall of the regime of Benito Mussolini and the devastating effects fascism had on Italy completely sapped the country’s faith in the monarchy that had backed Mussolini.
Umberto’s father, King Victor Emmanuel III, abdicated the throne in a bid to bolster the reputation of the monarchy. Emmanuel was aware that his public image was extremely negative following the war and his support of the fascist leadership that had dragged Italy into the conflict. Even his self-imposed exile was not enough to save the House of Savoy from being the last monarchy to rule over Italy, though.
On June 13, 1946, the monarchy was formally abolished in Italy. Umberto would live out the rest of his life in exile and never again set foot in Italy. Umberto’s son, Vittorio Emanuele di Savoia, has long claimed that he is the rightful heir to the throne of Italy. Recently, he claimed to have amended an ancient law that prohibited women from ascending the throne, setting his granddaughter Vittoria Cristina Chiara Adelaide Maria as the “rightful” heir to the crown.
Never mind that the crown in question doesn’t exist, and that most Italians don’t even know Vittoria’s name.
The 17-year-old great-granddaughter of exiled royalty speaks French fluently and knows a bit of Italian. She’s quite popular on social media, with Instagram being her best-received platform. However, Vittoria’s claim the throne isn’t uncontested, even among the small handful of Italians who even still care about royal succession.
Some of Vittorio’s cousins have decried the move as completely illegitimate for many reasons. Prince Aimone di Savoia Aosta called the move “totally illegitimate,” maintaining his own claim to the throne. The only problem facing both branches of the defunct royal family: Italy has no interest in a monarch.
The country has been a republic since the end of the Second World War. Very few people in the country even have a living memory of the monarchy and those who do associate it with one of the country’s darkest chapters. So, while a minor social media celebrity might claim some right to the crown, it’s a claim that holds less weight than the number of likes her photos get on Instagram.