Ines De La Cuetara, ABC News
(ROME) – Italy may have abolished its monarchy 75 years ago, but not having real power hasn’t stopped its royal family from feuding.
The direct descendants of the last king of Italy are divided over who should lead the family. For thousands of years, only the males of the family could rule. All that changed when the current head of the royal house of Savoy, Vittorio Emanuele di Savoia, issued a decree on his granddaughter’s 16th birthday granting him the power to eventually lead the family.
Princess Vittoria di Savoia – who is also a rising star on Instagram – is now the first woman in 1,000 years to become the family’s leading figure.
âI think this is a very important act, especially now in 2021 where women are so advocating for their rights,â she told ABC News in her very first on-camera interview.
Vittoria’s father, Emanuele Filiberto, Prince of Venice, said the move was a sign of the times.
Certainly, Vittoria’s rise to the royal ranks comes as more and more royal women across Europe take control of their countries’ thrones.
âI think the next generation of royalties in Europe will be mostly women because if you look at Spain, if you look at Sweden, if you look at Norway, if you look at Belgium, England, well, we have a fantastic example with the Queen, âhe said.
But, of course, there are those who oppose the young princess.
In Russia, a separate branch of the family refuses to accept the new rules. Prince Aimone di Aosta, Vittoria’s distant cousin, declined ABC News’ request for comment, but said the New York Times claim of Vittoria was “totally illegitimate”.
Vittoria’s father disagrees. He said the reason some don’t support Vittoria is because they wish they had her power.
âThey thought without me having a male heir that it would eventually come to them, but I think today times have changed and we have to keep up with the times and with modern times. they are not happy, and it is very sad for them, âsaid Emanuele.
The Aostes are now challenging Vittoria’s claim through a centuries-old institution known as the Consulta dei Senatori del Regno, which Emanuele says was dissolved when the monarchy was abolished.
âAfter my grandfather left Italy, the Consulta passed away, so they recreated a fake Consulta of the same name to make it look,â Emanuele said.
The internal fights between Savoy and Aosta have lasted for decades, Emanuele’s father would have even hit one of his cousins ââabout the quarrel during the marriage of the future king of Spain.
“No, he didn’t hit him, he just gave him a nice hug, maybe a little too hard,” Emanuele joked.
The irony, in the midst of the royal drama, is that there is no real throne in which to fight; Italy abolished its monarchy in 1946 as the last members of the royal family were deemed too close to the infamous dictator Benito Mussolini.
The Savoy family was eventually forced into exile, leaving behind their kingdom and many palaces built over the years by their ancestors. They were allowed to return to Italy in 2002, but Emanuele said the initial exile is further proof that his side of the family is next to the (deceased) throne.
âWe were in exile by the Italian Republic. We are the ones who went into exile because if the monarchy were to return, my father would have been king, âhe declared.
The family maintains that this fight is more than an imaginary crown, it is about the dynastic orders of the family. Emanuele compared his royal family to a charity and said it serves to promote Italy’s interests to the world.
âEverything I do, I do for Italy,â he said.
âThe role of the monarchy is to have someone above politics. It’s like a flag. The queen or the king is a person who represents all the people of this country, âhe said.
This is why he thinks it is a shame that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have decided to step down as members of the British Royal Family.
âIt’s not a red carpet, it’s not a movie scene, it’s real life, but on the other hand I think she was prepared. She knew where she was going, so I personally think that it’s sad to spit on the plate where you eat, âhe said.
Speaking of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s exit from the monarchy, the Prince of Venice said he believes the royal platform is too important to give up.
âIt might be hard to understand in America, but when you come from a royal family, you grow up with these titles, with these values, with these duties, and it’s part of you and losing the titles, of losing what he (Prince Harry) was born to be – it’s extremely difficult. It’s a shame to give up, “said Emanuele.” They had so much to give England, so much to do in England. “
Emanuele is now working on several documentaries on the House of Savoy and franchises his Italian restaurant in Los Angeles, “The Prince of Venice”.
As for Vittoria, she is now preparing to become the figurehead of the family. There are no princess classes, but she does spend time learning about her family history and getting to know Italy.
“I feel and know that I have great responsibilities and I am preparing for them,” she said. “We still have a lot to do and I am very, very grateful and will fight for it.”
Her father pushed her to develop a good work ethic, which is why she recently did an internship at the Alfred Sommier Hotel, “cleaning the rooms and serving dinner in the restaurant,” according to Emanuele.
âIt’s very important. It’s important to work. It’s important to realize that making money is difficult and that you have to be respectful,â he said.
Despite the controversy surrounding her position as a royal, Vittoria has no plans to give up her claims to Aosta.
And while it doesn’t currently appear that the monarchy is making a real comeback in Italy, Emanuele said: “Never say never.”
Copyright Â© 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.