Umberto II di Savoia|
(1904 - 1983) Italy
The last Italian king
Born in Turin as the second son of King Victor Emanuel III, Umberto had a militry education but also took a degree in law. From 1944 he had been Lieutenant-General of the realm.
On the abdication of his father, Victor Emmanuel III, he ruled from 9 May to 13 June 1946, when he also was forced to abdicate (after a very dubious plebiscite) and left the country to avoid a civil war, settling in Portugal as the Count of Sarre. He is thus known as "The May king".
From 1946 he separated from his wife Maria Josè, whith whom he had no more realtionship for a long time, what he couldn't do as long as he was king.
He died in Geneva, Switzerland, and is buried in the Hautecombe Abbey in Savoy, France.
There are persistent rumors about Umberto's homosexuality. The writer Lucio Lami, in his recently issued biography titled Il Re di Maggio (The May King), who interviewed in his exile Umberto of Savoy, admits that the last king of Italy never told him openly about being gay, but, he adds,
"... it was nonetheless evident in some of his manners, in his voice nuances..."
The rumors about Umberto's tendencies, he writes, are anyway confirmed by clear statements,
"... mainly by the actress Milly, who said that their relationship was purely platonic, ant that Umberto surrounded himself with 'screen women', and organized things so that at his encounters with these 'splendid' women were present reporters to give to the press the image of a 'gallant and handsome prince'. It is a fake image, as also the files of the Ovra (that is the Mussolini's secret service) demonstrates. Anyway this was his business, that doesn't at all soil his person - he was a worthy, elegant, honnest and caring person with a deep love for his country."
Enrico Montanari's work told how in 1927, when he was a young lieutenant in Turin, he was insistently courted by the Prince Umberto, who even gave him a silver cigarette lighter bearing the inscriprion "Dimmi di sì!" ("Say yes to me!"). In the biographies of the film-director Luchino Visconti (who was also a Duke), is told in more or less explicit terms about his relationship with the Prince Umberto. Among his supposed lovers are also the handsome French actor Jean Marais and the boxer Primo Carnera.