Rome, Dec. 23 (Reuters): The heirs to Italy’s throne came and saw their ancestral homeland today, ending a 56-year exile imposed as punishment for their family’s collaboration with fascist dictator Benito Mussolini in World War II.
But news of the surprise trip was greeted with indifference, and the long-awaited re-entry proved to be more of a whimper than a bang, lasting less than five hours. Prince Vittorio Emanuele, 65, and his 30-year-old son had time for only a brief audience with Pope John Paul before flying back to their residence-in-exile — Switzerland.
Although free to stay by an Act of Parliament, the prince said back injuries sustained during a car racing accident in Egypt meant he had to fly home to Geneva for further treatment. The prince, accompanied by his wife Marina Doria, promised his family would be back in February.