Some more info about the King and the Queen...
The enagement and the wedding of the two Prince's was plagued by mishaps. The enagement was held in Brussels, where Prince Umberto was shot at whlist laying a wreath in honour at the grave of the Belgian unknown soldier !. During the trial of the would be assassin, a Italian named Da Rosa, his lawyer made sure that the Facist affiliations of the Italian Royal Family was brought forth to the public attention!.
The wedding which was held in Rome on the 8th Jan 1930, was delayed by some 4 hours due to the trains of the bribe and her mother becomming unstitched and had to repaired (it is said that bride had lost her train three or four times before she reached the alter ).
There was a mixed up in the order of precedence amongst the Royal guests, the disgruntled Duke of York (the future King George VI of Great Britain) trailed behind the ex-King Amanullah of Afghanistan. This same latter Monarch when leaving the Quirinale, believing that the acclamations of the crowds was directed exclusively to himself became very excited and began waving his silk hat in a frantic manner to the dissgust of the other guests !
King Albert I of Belgium was Particularly fond of his only daughter Maria Jose and favored her adove that of her brothers: "she ought to have been the heir to the throne" he had once said. She being cultured and serious minded , was the worst possiable choice for the debonair Prince Umberto of Italy, it was well perhaps, that she was as much in love with Italy as she was in love with the pleasure loving Prince!
Life for Maria Jose, Princess of Piedmont, was not easy, her marriage was not happy and life in Fascist Italy was difficult, given her liberal and democratic sympathies!. The Italian Royal Family fully supported Mussolini and its members been identified with his regime : Her anti-Fascist sympathies had infuriated one section of the Italian people, whilst her support for her much maligned brother King Leopold III alienated another!
During the fall of Mussolini and the very undignified flight of the King from Rome to join the allies, the Princess had been in Switzerland, but she too suffered from the condemnation, neither right or left wanted anything to do with her. However the King had decided to retire from public life and hand his duties over to Prince Umberto in a attempt to bring about a new image for the discredited Royal Family.
Prince Umberto was now the Lieutenant-General of the Realm with his wife once more beside him, but it needed more than a show of their charm to save the dynasty, in the face of mounting dissatisfaction with the King and the Monarchy it was agreed that a Plebiscate should take place to decide if the people wanted a Monarchy or a republic !. The king to increase the chances of a continuance of the dynasty and at behest of the allied powers abdicated the throne and retired to Egypt and died there in 1947.
Prince Umberto at 41 and Princess Maria Jose at 39, now became King and Queen of Italy!. The new King and Queen of Italy, made an attractive couple, he although balding was still considered to be debonair and the Queen, well she was as soigee as ever.
Although the king had carried out his difficult task as Lieutenant-General of the realm with his customary good nature, it is said that it was the princess (now Queen) who had the more forceful Character of the two! One Dr Castellani had one commented "once more i noticed how our Queen's personallity effaces that of everyone else, even when she is silent she outshines them all, in her nature she combined a powerful, almost masculine intellect, a vivid mimd!".
True it was the King who had the most appeal, esp to the womenfolk.....on many occasions he was nearly suffocated by surging crowds of women, all eager to embrace their gallant Sovereign!. Wheras the King's warmth of heart was apparent to all, the Queen's composure gave her a withdrawn, almost forbidding Quality!. But the Queen was never severe, she had a deep kindliness of hearts!. As soon as the war was over she turned one of her villas into a hospital for maimed children.
Again her close friend Dr Castellani tells of a story of how one night the Queen, was dressed ready to attend a gala dinner and that she recieved a message from one of the childrens mother that her son was dying and she begged the Queen to visit her son and save his life by touching him (This was due to the legend to the effect that the Queen had the healing touch, when she had nursed the soldiers during the Abyssinian Campaign).Henceforth the Queen after a quick change of clothes made off to the hospital visit the boy, only to discover that he had died in the meantime ! The Queen then wanting to console the mother walked through the dark streets of the rough Trastevere district (a very Republican District), the local populace was most unwelcoming towards her and her escort, her friend the doctor. Having found the dingy home of the dead boy's mother, comforted her as best as she could!. By the time she left the Queen was greeted by a huge crowd of people which blocked the narrow street!
Given time and gestures such as this, the King and Queen would have earned the hearts and love of their subjects but it was not to be, fate had other ideas ! As i have mentioned the plebiscate voted for a Republic!. The King was urged to make some sort of stand, but he refused saying " I will not allow my hands to be stained with a single drop of Italian Blood !". later in a digified statement to the nation he declared "I believe it to be my duty to do everything in my power to spare Italy Further grief and tears after it has suffered so much"
The Queen and her four children left the Quirinale on the afternoon of June 5th 1946, two days after the plebiscate, they was bound for Portugal!. The King joined his family ten days later, only to say "Yesterday was the saddest day of my life, i wept when i left Rome." However their marriage, which was not happy, did not survive the shock of their ill fortune and the exiled couple had lived apart until the King's death in Geneva on the 18th of March 1983, having suffered from bone cancer !