Royal Couples That Were Not To Be: Vittorio Emanuele of Savoy & Marie Antoinette of Württemberg & Isabella of Savoy-Genoa

The Württemberg Duchess and Savoy Princess 
Who Were Linked To The Prince of Naples

A report on the Prince of Naples’ purported engagement
Article (c) La Stampa

On 12 June 1967, the Italian newspaper La Stampa carried the following report:

The promised wife of Vittorio Emanuele of Savoy finally has a face: the girl who, according to what is claimed in the circles of the international aristocracy, would be chosen by King Umberto as the future wife of his son is Marie-Antoinette of Württemberg, the seventh child of Duke Albrecht of Württemberg. Vittorio Emanuele, in view of this impending marital alliance, has definitively dissolved any sentimental relationship with Marina Dorina, agrees with his father’s predilections or adheres to the arrangement for ‘raisons d’État’?

Marina Doria in 1960
Photograph (c) Alamy

Vittorio Emanuele and Marie Antoinette were fourth cousins, both being descendants of King Louis Philippe of the French (1773-1850) and his wife Princess Marie Amélie of Bourbon-Two Sicilies (1782-1866). Needless to say, the supposed engagement between the Prince of Naples and Duchess of Württemberg never materialised. Duchess Marie Antoinette of Württemberg was the youngest child of Duke Philipp of Württemberg (1893-1975) and his second wife Archduchess Rosa of Austria-Tuscany (1906-1983). Duchess Marie Antoinette of Württemberg (b.1937) never married, nor left issue, and died in 2004. She was the youngest sister of Duke Carl (b.1933), Head of House Württemberg.

Vittorio Emanuele, Prince of Naples
Duchess Marie Antoinette of Württemberg
Marie Antoinette of Württemberg with her dog

On 23 June 1967, La Stampa carried yet another story announcing a supposed royal partner for the Prince of Naples. This time the young woman in question was Princess Isabella of Savoy-Genoa (b.1943). Isabella is the only child of Prince Eugenio, Duke of Genoa (1906-1996), and Princess Lucia of Bourbon-Two Sicilies (1908-2001): she is the last living member of the Savoy-Genoa branch of the Italian royal family. Vittorio Emanuele and Isabella are second cousins once removed, both being descendants of Prince Ferdinando, Duke of Genoa (1822-1855), and Princess Elisabeth of Saxony (1830-1912).

A subsequent report on another of the Prince of Naples’ alleged fiancées
Photograph (c) La Stampa

Needless to say, this particular pairing, which would have been spectacular from a dynastic point of view, did not materialise. The prince had been with his partner Marina Doria for many years, and he would never consent to give her up, not even under threat of disinheritance from his father King Umberto. Interestingly, Queen Marie José, Vittorio Emanuele’s mother, seems to have not taken a stance in regards to her son contracting a marriage befitting a Head of House Savoy. King Umberto and Queen Marie José had lived largely separate lives in exile: the king settled in Portugal and the queen took up residence in Switzerland.

King Umberto II and Queen Marie José of Italy at daughter Maria Pia’s 1955 nuptials

Prince Vittorio Emanuele of Savoy (b.1937) eventually married Marina Doria (b.1935). Their civil marriage took place at Las Vegas on 11 January 1970. Their religious union occurred at Tehran on 7 October 1971. A few days after their Roman Catholic ceremony, the couple attended the magnificent 2500th anniversary celebration of the Persian Empire that was held at Persepolis: the Prince of Naples was a close friend of the Shah of Iran. Vittorio Emanuele and Marina’s wedding was not attended by a single member of his family. The couple has one son, Emanuele Filiberto (b.1972).

The 1971 religious wedding in Iran of the Prince of Naples and Marina Doria

Princess Isabella of Savoy-Genoa married in the same year as her cousin (and formerly rumoured fiancé). On 29 April 1971, the princess married Count Alberto Frioli (b.1943) at Lausanne. In addition to her parents, the Duke and Duchess of Genoa, the wedding was attended by King Umberto, Queen Marie José, and their eldest daughter Princess Maria Pia. Princess Isabella and Alberto Frioli have four children: Vittorio Frioli (b.1972), Maria Cristina Frioli (born and died in 1973), Carlo Albert Frioli (b.1974), and Luce Frioli (b.1978). Isabella of Savoy-Genoa resides in Brazil.

The 1971 nuptials of Princess Isabella of Savoy-Genoa and Count Alberto Frioli
The King and Queen of Italy arriving at the marriage of Princess Isabella

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