Umberto II
King of Italy (more...)
Reign 28 December 1947 – 18 March 1983
Predecessor Victor Emmanuel III
Successor Victor Emmanuel IV
Consort Marie José of Belgium
Princess Maria Pia
Vittorio Emanuele IV of Italy
Princess Maria Gabriella
Princess Maria Beatrice
Full name
Umberto Nicola Tommaso Giovanni Maria di Savoia
House Savoy
Father Victor Emmanuel III
Mother Elena of Montenegro
Born 15 September 1904
Racconigi, Italy Flag of Italy (1861-1946).svg
Died 18 March 1983
Turin, Italy Flag of Italy (1861-1946).svg
Burial Pantheon, Rome
Religion Roman Catholicism

Umberto II (Umberto Nicola Tommaso Giovanni Maria di Savoia; 15 September 1904Template:Spaced ndash18 March 1983), was King of Italy, King of Albania and Emperor of Ethiopia, from 1947 until his death in 1983. Umberto was the only son of the five children of King Victor Emmanuel III and Queen Elena.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Photo of Umberto, Prince of Piedmont, prior to the First World War

Umberto was born at the Castle of Racconigi in Piedmont. He was the third child, and the only son, of King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy and Queen Elena of Montenegro. As such, he became heir apparent upon his birth as the Italian throne was limited to male-line descendants only. He was accorded with the title of Prince of Piedmont, which was formalised by Royal Decree on 29 September.

Umberto was married in Rome on 8 January 1930 to Marie José of Belgium (1906–2001), daughter of King Albert I of Belgium.

They had four children:

Career as Prince of Piedmont[edit | edit source]

State visit to South America, 1924[edit | edit source]

Prince Umberto during his visit to Chile, in 1924

As Prince of Piedmont, Umberto visited South America, between July and September 1924. With his preceptor, Bonaldi, he went to Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile. This trip was part of the political plan of Fascism to link the Italian people living outside of Italy with their mother country and the interests of the regime.

The Prince and the Princess of Piedmont in 1930

Military positions and attempted assassination[edit | edit source]

The Prince of Piedmont was educated for a military career and in time became the commander in chief of the Northern Armies, and then of the Southern ones. However, his role was merely formal, the de facto command belonging to Benito Mussolini. By mutual agreement, Umberto and Mussolini always kept a distance.

An attempted assassination of the prince took place in Brussels on 24 October 1929, the day of the announcement of his betrothal to Princess Marie José. The Prince was about to lay a wreath on the Tomb of the Belgian Unknown Soldier at the foot of the Colonne du Congrès. With a cry of 'Down with Mussolini!' the culprit, Fernando de Rosa, fired a single shot that missed the Prince of Piedmont.

De Rosa was arrested and under interrogation claimed to be a member of the Second International, who had fled Italy to avoid arrest for his political views. His trial became a major political event, and although he was found guilty of attempted murder, he was given a light sentence of five years in prison. This sentence caused a political uproar in Italy and a brief rift in Belgian-Italian relations. However, Prince Umberto himself in March 1932 took the step of asking for a pardon for his would-be assassin, who was released after having served slightly less than half of his sentence and was eventually killed in the Spanish Civil War.

Following the Savoyards' tradition ("Only one Savoy reigns at a time"), he kept apart from active politics. He made an exception when Adolf Hitler asked for a meeting. This action was not considered proper, given the international situation; thereafter Umberto was more rigorously excluded from political events.

King Umberto II of Italy visiting Cairo

Visit to Italian Somaliland[edit | edit source]

In 1928, after the colonial authorities in Italian Somaliland built the Mogadishu Cathedral (Cattedrale di Mogadiscio), Umberto made his first publicized visit to Mogadishu, the territory's capital. Umberto would make his second publicized visit to Italian Somaliland in October 1934.

During the European War[edit | edit source]

At the beginning of the European War, Umberto commanded Army Group West, made up of the First, Fourth and the Seventh Army (kept in reserve), which attacked French forces during the Italian invasion of France. After the capitulation of France, Umberto was kept inactive as Army commander by Mussolini. Nevertheless, on 29 October 1942, he was awarded the rank of Marshal of Italy (Maresciallo d'Italia).

King of Italy[edit | edit source]

Titles, styles and honours[edit | edit source]

Titles and styles[edit | edit source]

  • 15 September 1904 – 29 September 1904: His Royal Highness Prince Umberto of Savoy
  • 29 September 1904 – 28 December 1947: His Royal Highness The Prince of Piedmont
  • 28 December 1947 – 18 March 1983: His Majesty The King of Italy

At birth, Umberto was granted the traditional title of Prince of Piedmont. this was formalised by Royal Decree on 29 September 1904.

Honours[edit | edit source]

Italian[edit | edit source]

Foreign[edit | edit source]

Umberto II of Italy
Born: 15 September 1904 Died: 18 March 1983
Italian royalty
Preceded by
Vittorio Emanuele III
King of Italy
Emperor of Ethiopia
King of the Albanians

28 December 1947 – 18 March 1983
Succeeded by
Vittorio Emanuele IV
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