An Italian prince intends to renounce his claim to the country’s throne so that the title passes to his daughter, a teenage model with a huge following on Instagram.
Prince Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy said he hoped the “modern” initiative would show that his family was open and progressive, predicting that his daughter Vittoria would do a better job than he would.
A model with nearly 80,000 followers on Instagram, the 19-year-old is currently studying political science and history of art at a university in London.
Her 50-year-old father calls her the “rock n’ roll princess” for her interest in fashion and social media.
The House of Savoy provided Italy’s kings from unification in the 19th century to the abolition of the monarchy in a referendum in 1946.
But they have never given up hope of the monarchy being restored in Italy and point to the example of Spain, where the king returned after the death of Franco in 1975. King Juan Carlos then led Spain’s transition to democracy.
“I will, with great pleasure, step down and let her take on the role, which I’m sure she will do better than me,” Prince Emanuele Filiberto told The Telegraph.
“It won’t be tomorrow or in one year, but when she is ready. It’s important that the younger generation have a chance to put new, modern ideas into practice.
“They are much more conscious than us of the problems facing the world. And it is important that she doesn’t become the heir at too late a stage in her life.”
The decision to step down early will mean that his daughter avoids the predicament that King Charles III found himself in, waiting for decades to take on the role he had been groomed for as his mother, Elizabeth II, lived to the age of 96.
“I have the utmost respect for Charles and he is a wonderful King but he did wait a long time. Maybe it would have been helpful if he had become King 20 years ago,” Prince Emanuele Filiberto said.
The Savoy family has already tilted the line of succession towards Vittoria – two years ago, the prince’s father, Vittorio Emanuele, whose own father was Italy’s last reigning king, changed an ancient custom known as the Salic Law, which had stipulated that the royal line could only pass to male heirs.
Despite there being scant support in Italy for the monarchy to return, Prince Emanuele Filiberto insists many people still find the concept of a royal family appealing.
“Look at the astronomical numbers who watched the funeral of Queen Elizabeth and then the coronation of King Charles III in Britain. I think in times of crisis people see a strong, almost spiritual presence, in kings and queens.”
The prince said he had tried to make himself known to Italians once the Savoys were allowed to return from decades of exile – he took part in the Italian equivalent of Strictly Come Dancing, for instance.
His daughter will take on the running of the Savoy dynasty’s charities, which last year spent around $1 million on charitable projects.
This year they plan to rebuild a music school that was devastated by flooding last month in the northern region of Emilia Romagna.
For now, she and her younger sister Luisa, who is at boarding school in Oxford, are enjoying life in the UK. “They are really loving their time in England a lot. They don’t want to come back and see us,” the prince said.