17 MARCH 2003
The Italian royal family has returned to the country they once ruled after nearly 60 years of exile. They were legally banned from Italy in 1946, because of the House of Savoy's support for wartime dictator Benito Mussolini.
The family made a brief visit to meet the Pope last year, after the law was changed, but many see their visit to Naples as more significant, as it was from this city that King Umberto II went into exile.
Victor Emmanuel has been campaigning for permission to return from Switzerland for some time now and the family has given up any claim to the throne or to royal properties, including the crown jewels.
"We have nothing in Italy and we are not asking for anything," said the 65-year-old prince. “My deepest desire is that the name of the Savoys, which has been tied to Italy since unification, continues to be a reason for union beyond any historical controversy.”
The issue of their return is still a source of some discord, however, and the family was met by crowds of anti-monarchist protestors when they arrived in Naples. There were also some scuffles in the streets as groups of pro-monarchists clashed with the republican protesters.