17 February 2001


Royal return


The good news is that the male heirs of the royal House of Savoy will be allowed to return to Italy. (The royals of the weaker sex were always welcome.) The change of heart by the politicians-cum-crooks who rule the land of pasta came about because of the death of Italy's last queen, Marie-Jose, aged 94. That inspired Italy's ruling centre-left coalition to ask the Council of State to rule favourably on the return.

Mind you, the fact that Victor Emmanuel, 63, and head of the House of Savoy, and his son, Emmanuel-Filiberto, 29, have been barred from their country since the second world war is an outrage in itself. Victor-Emmanuel, a Gstaad neighbour and a man I have known and liked most of my life, was born in Italy the grandson and then son of the nation's head of state. After a 1945 referendum, one won by the monarchy, but by the smallest of margins, his father, King Umberto, decided to exile himself in order to keep the communist and socialist filth quiet. Which makes the illegal ukase of keeping them out so much more insufferable.

It has always been a mystery to me. How does a politician who has lied and cheated his way to power decide that another Italian has no right to set foot in his country? In my own land of feta and olives, crooks like Andreas Papandreou not only kept King Constantine — also born and bred in good old Hellas — out, but confiscated his property without paying him a single drachma. This, of course, is about to change, as the highest court in Europe has declared that the King was screwed by the crooks and that the thieves have to compensate him. Queen Marie-Jose did everything in her power to resist Mussolini, but her hands, after all, were tied. Italy was a constitutional monarchy, and the king reigned but did not rule. Still, the Left didn't miss a beat in getting rid of the monarchy the moment the war was over.

Victor-Emmanuel has been described as arrogant. He is nothing of the sort; he simply knows how to answer journalist busybodies who asked him to swear allegiance to the state. "Give me a public post and I'll do it right away," he answered, "but now I'm just a private citizen. Have you, the media, ever been asked to swear allegiance?" Touché and bravo.

The majority of the media in most countries are a bunch of envious and ugly-looking lefties, the last people on earth to swear allegiance to anything except hyperbole, sensationalism and to the art of lying. Royals the world over should stop bending over backwards to please them and tell them to bugger off.

More good news is that Simeon of Bulgaria is returning to Sofia to run for office. That means there will be at least one honest man standing, which is an improvement of sorts. Simeon is an extremely sympathetic man, extremely well-read and extremely patriotic. Honest men do not go far in Balkan politics, but there's always the exception.

And now for the bad news. A leading Dutch newspaper has asked Crown Prince Willem Alexander of the Netherlands to renounce the throne if he decides to marry the divine Maxima Zorreguieta, an Argentine beauty that a pope would renounce his vows for. Talk about the mouse that roared. Dutch leftist members of parliament — like their counterparts everywhere in desperate need of any cause that will generate publicity — have it in for the divine Maxima because her daddy served as agricultural minister for General Jorge Videla in Argentina. What these phonies conveniently forget is that when Videla took over in 1976, I believe, even the arch hypocrites that run the New York Times cheered. Videla restored order and it was only toward the end that Maxima's father accepted to serve as minister. Agricultural ministers do not have much to do with law and order, i.e., putting the screws on lefty terrorists, so what's all the fuss about?

I'll tell you. Opportunism and a desire to embarrass the Dutch royal family. Willem, old boy, don't you dare give up the girl or, if you do, please pass her my address in Rougemont, London and New York. Tell them, instead, to go suck a lollypop. Maxima's father has never been accused of anything until now, which shows to what lengths the PC busybodies will go. Queen Beatrix should get off the pot and tell her government to get on with it. (I may even tell her in person, as her chalet is situated 50 yards from mine.) The sins of the father are non-existent. The beauty and grace of the daughter undeniable. Case closed.

© 2001 The Spectator.co.uk