Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
Marymount - International School Rome

Savoy prince apologises to Italy’s Jews over 1938 racial laws

The great-grandson of Italy's King Vittorio Emanuele III writes a letter of apology to Italy's Jewish community.

Prince Emanuele Filiberto di Savoia, heir to the defunct Italian throne, last night issued a televised apology to Italy's Jewish community for the signing of the "shameful" 1938 racial laws by his great-grandfather King Vittorio Emanuele III.

The 48-year-old prince, who was born and raised in Switzerland as an exile from Italy, strongly condemned the "painful signature" of the anti-Semitic laws, "from which we we firmly dissociate, an unacceptable document, an indelible shadow for my family, a wound still open for the whole of Italy."

The "solemn and official" apology over the racial laws - promulgated by Mussolini's Fascist regime to enforce racial discrimination, mainly against Italy's Jews - comes ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January.

Speaking on Italian television channel Tg5, the prince said he was writing with "an open heart" a difficult letter whose contents "may surprise you and that perhaps you did not expect."

Emanuele Filiberto said he that the time had come "once and for all" to "come to terms with the history and the past" of the Savoy family.

He said it was his hope that history will not be erased or forgotten, just like the "victims of the Holocaust must never be forgotten," acknowledging "the six million European Jews who perished at the hands of the Nazi-Fascist madness, of which 7,500 were our Italian brothers."

Emanuele Filiberto is the grandson of Italy's last king, Umberto II, who ruled for only 34 days.

Umberto's father, King Victor Emmanuel, ruled Italy from 1900 until May 1946 when he abdicated in favour of Umberto after being discredited by his support for Mussolini during world war two.

The prince's categoric apology and appeal for dialogue is seen as an attempt to close - or begin to close - a shameful chapter that has followed the Savoy heirs to this day.

The situation was not helped when, in a 1997 television interview, the prince's father Vittorio Emanuele refused to apologise for his grandfather's approval of Mussolini's race laws, saying he believed they "were not so bad."

He later sought to backtrack from his controversial comments but it was too late for many Italians who today will also be questioning why it took 83 years for the Savoys to issue an official apology.

Italy's Festa della Repubblica, which takes place every year on 2 June, commemorates the day in 1946 when Italians voted in favour of a republic and against the monarchy.

Who is Prince Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy?

Born in Geneva in 1972, Emanuele Filiberto di Savoia is married to French actress Clotilde Courau, with two daughters, Vittoria and Luisa.

A former hedge fund manager, over the years he has made many headlines, from his mobile street food venture in Los Angeles to his appearance on Italy's 'Strictly Come Dancing' (Ballando con le Stelle).

In 2018 he announced that he was contemplating the launch of a royalist party to advocate for restoration of monarchy in Italy.

The prince first set foot on Italian soil in 2002 when an amendment was made to the Italian constitution lifting the ban that had prohibited male descendents of the House of Savoy entering Italy.

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