Whos on first?

The Savoia family demands millions in damages

Editorial Staff
November 29, 2007

According to Italy’s former royal family, the 54-year exile they endured was a breach of human rights. Surviving family members have asked the Italian state for 260 million euro in compensation for their forced exile, which ended in 2002 when parliament decided to allow them back into the country. If the request is accepted, the family says, it intends to donate the entire sum to charity.

In a seven-page letter to President Giorgio Napolitano and Premier Romano Prodi, lawyers for the Savoia family requested that previously confiscated property be returned and the family be compensated for its years in exile. Vittorio Emanuele II asked for 170 million euro, and his son, Filiberto, requested 90 million euro. In addition, the family asked that the many villas and castles throughout the country, which were confiscated from Vittorio Emanuele, be returned, including Villa Ada, Villa Margherita (today home to the US Embassy), the Quirinale and Castelporziano in Rome, and the Racconigi Castle in Posillipo. Jewels worth 25 million euro, currently housed at the Bank of Italy, were also on the list of items to be returned.

The ex-royals argue that the constitutional ban that kept male members of the Savoia family from entering Italian territory was not in accordance with the European Convention on human rights. Most politicians were outraged by the request and argue that it is too late for the Savoias to be asking for compensation after so many years. Others contend that the ex-royals should be paying damages to the Italian state and to the Jews they helped send to concentration camps.

Meanwhile, an official at the premier’s office said the government has no intention of paying the Savoias and is, in fact, considering seeking damages from the family for its actions before and during World War II.

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