Skip to content
the house of Savoy claims its royal jewels

Worn for the last time seventy-six years ago by the Queen of Italy, Marie-José, wife of Humbert II, jewels are claimed by the descendants of the House of Savoy. The latter began on Wednesday June 22 a lawsuit against the Italian State to determine the owner of these coins: the Italian crown or the State? The heirs to the royal family have never officially claimed this chest of jewels, for fear of jeopardizing their relationship with the state. However, Emmanuel-Philibert of Savoy, the son of the pretender to the throne of Italy, now wishes to recover this property, which he considers to belong by right to his family.

A family treasure

After the abolition of the Italian monarchy in 1946, Umberto II, the last king of Italy, entrusted a casket filled with royal jewels to the Koch Palace, the Roman headquarters of the Bank of Italy. Protected by eleven seals, it contains 26 parures set with more than 6,700 diamonds, as well as 2,000 pearls of different sizes mounted on different pieces such as tiaras, necklaces, earrings and brooches. A real treasure estimated at around 300 million euros. It is not the financial argument that Emmanuel-Philibert of Savoy puts forward in his fight for restitution, he says, but more for a sentimental and historical reason.

An owner to be determined

For the royal family, the jewelry box was well ” entrusts “ and had to be made available to whom it may concern”. However, the vague mentions in the minutes of the time do not make it possible to determine the owner of the jewels. Emmanuel-Philibert of Savoy defends his position by mentioning the presence of a royal note, deposited with the jewels, which would indicate that they must be “return to its rightful owner”. He also ensures that the jewels are made up of personal property, gifts, or were purchased with family money and not with that linked to the exercise of royal functions.

For their part, the opponents of this restitution point out that “the owners of these jewels” are not specified and above all that article 13 of the Constitution mentions that these “jewels are confiscated in the name of the Italian Republic”. Legal elements which strongly constrain the request of the son of the pretender to the throne of Italy.

A request that is not recent

Three years after his return from exile, Emmanuel-Philibert of Savoy asked Mario Draghi, then deputy and governor of the Bank of Italy, in 2006 to exhibit the jewels during the Turin Olympics. A request ended in a refusal. He reiterated his request for restitution officially in November 2021, by entering into formal discussions. Following the negative response from the Bank of Italy and the government, the heir to the crown finally began legal proceedings. Determined to win his case, he does not exclude the possibility of seizing the European Court of Human Rights in the event of failure of the trial.