London: Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini had an affair with Italy’s last queen, a secret letter written by his son has revealed.
News that Maria Jose di Savoia was his lover emerged in a 40-year-old letter published on Wednesday by Italian weekly magazine Oggi, reports the Guardian.
It was written in 1971 by Mussolini’s late son, Romano, to the then editor of leading Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera Antonio Terzi.
His letter reads: “I can confirm in all good faith that the romantic and political relations between Marie-Jose and my father were often talked about at home, and I can tell you with honesty that my mother (albeit with understandable reservations) was always pretty explicit: there was a brief period of intimate romantic relations between my father and the then Princess of Piedmont that was then I believe interrupted at the instance of my father.”
The daughter of the Belgian king, Albert I, Marie-Jose was born in 1906. While still a child, it was decided that she should marry into the Italian royal family and in 1930 she wed Umberto of Savoy, the only son of King Victor Emmanuel.
By her own subsequent account, the marriage was not a happy one, and she separated from her husband after the Italian monarchy was abolished by referendum in 1946.
That the couple had a secret relationship finds more evidence in Mussolini’s mistress Claretta Petacci’s diaries from the period, in which she writes that Mussolini told her that the princess had tried to seduce him at Castelporziano, a coastal area south of Rome where the king had made available to him a hunting estate in which Mussolini entertained many of his lovers.
She quoted the fascist leader as saying: “Marie-Jose came and said ‘May I?’ Then, with a small movement her dress fell and she was there virtually naked.”
But she records Mussolini reassuring her that he found the princess “repulsive” and that she had made “no impression on me at all”.
The report on Wednesday in Oggi said the letter was found among the journalist’s papers by his son and that Romano Mussolini’s widow had judged it authentic.