Saturday, June 27, 2020

The Beautiful May Queen of Italy

Monza, September 1930. Princess Maria-José of Belgium steps down from Borzacchini's Alfa Romeo car with the help of Prospero Gianferrari.

Queen Maria Jose of Italy was probably pleased when the first results of the referendum to decide whether Italy would retain the monarchy came out, but disappointment soon followed. The people voted for a republic in this referendum held after the Second World War, swayed by the former King Vittorio Emmanuell's links with Mussolini's hated and feared regime. His abdication in support of his son King Umberto II made no difference. The government sent the Savoys into exile and forbade the heirs from coming back for several years.

'The May Queen' was born in 1906, the daughter of King Albert 1 of Belgium and Duchess Elisabetta. Although her old aunt, the former Queen of Naples, told her not to marry that 'little Umberto of Savoy,' her parents planned for the marriage from when she was a child. They sent her to an Italian school and she also had a Florentine governess so that she would learn to speak Italian fluently. Young Maria Jose was not keen on an arranged marriage, but did her duty. The beautiful blue-eyed bride married the handsome army officer in 1930 in the Paolina Chapel at the Quirinale Palace in Rome.

Unfortunately, it was not a happy marriage, and the couple constantly bickered. However, they had four children, Maria Pia, Vittorio Emmanuel, Maria Gabriella and Maria Beatrice. Maria Jose hated Mussolini's Fascist regime and Mussolini had his chief of police keep her under surveillance. According to The Exiled Belgian Royalist, she was the kind of woman that Mussolini's regime disapproved. She was 'too thin, her hair was too short, she was too fashionable and she was too independent'. Maria Jose became President of Italy's Red Cross in 1939. During the Second World War, her relationships with famous people and her links with the Vatican helped her to forge ties with the Allies, but her pleas to Hitler to allow food supplies into Belgium and release Belgian POW's were in vain, as was her effort to broker a peace treaty with the US.

King Umberto only ruled for 27 days. After the war, the former Queen separated from him and lived in Switzerland with her daughters, and then in Mexico, while Umberto lived in Portugal. She wrote books about the House of Savoy and, an accomplished pianist herself, started a prize for musical composition. She returned to Italy in 1988. She died in 1994 in 2001.

Did Queen Maria Jose Have An Affair With Mussolini?

In 2011 an article in an Italian magazine suggested that the Queen had an affair with Mussolini! The evidence for this was in a letter to a journalist from the former dictator's youngest son Romano to a journalist in 2011. The affair was only short, but it was allegedly known to Mussolini's wife Rachele and caused her a lot of pain.

Another story appears to dispel this tale completely. Mussolini told his mistress Claretta Petacci that Maria Jose tried to seduce him on the beach at a seaside resort in 1937 but she was too thin and he didn't fancy her so he declined! Claretta thought that he would have boasted about an affair, if he had had one.

As the beautiful Queen hated Mussolini's regime and let her opinion be known and Mussolini often bragged about his mistresses, the story of this affair seems quite unbelievable. I think that we should give her the benefit of the doubt!

Beautiful song "Terra Promessa" about the May Queen by Petra Berger

Friday, June 19, 2020

The Queen's Official Birthday Celebrations

This is a bit late, I am sorry. It was sad to watch the Queen enjoying her birthday in such a lonely way.

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