The unseemly spat in the Italian noble Savoia family over which member should be the head of the family is causing grave embarrassment to Italys minuscule monarchist party and some mirth amongst the vast majority of the population of the country.

A declaration from the president of the highest committee of Savoia courtiers, the Consulta dei Senatori del Regno, was issued earlier this month which stated that Vittorio Emanuele, (the only son of the last king of Italy), and his son Emanuele Filiberto are completely excluded from any hereditary roles and titles.

This exclusion is the result of the application of a rule made in the 1780s by King Vittorio Amedeo III of Savoia, king of Sardinia, regarding marriages for members of the royal family, which stated that the king must approve the consorts of close members of the family. In the event of a royal son or daughter marrying a commoner and the consent not being given, the marriage would be considered morganatic, and the couple would automatically be excluded from those in Iine to the throne. It seems that King Umberto II (at this time in exile in Portugal) never officially recognised the marriage in 1970 of his son, Vittorio Emanuele, to Marina Doria Ricolfi, a marriage celebrated first in Las Vegas and then in Teheran, and rumoured not to have met with the ex-kings approval. On the basis of this the Savoia courtiers claim that the succession to the Savoia family titles must pass to the next males in the family line, Prince Amedeo of Savoia , duke of Aosta (descended from Vittorio Emanuele IIs second son) and then to his son, Principe Aimone.