Victor Emmanuel III, King of Italy, 1869-1947

Victor Emmanuel was King of Italy throughout the war. MUSSOLINI had made sure that the King’s position was guaranteed by the Fascist constitution and the King was a figurehead for his regime. However Victor Emmanuel did not support Italy’s entry into the war but his protests were not heeded by Mussolini. In 1943 as Mussolini’s North African Campaign disintegrated, the King became drawn into a plot by the military to depose Mussolini. On 25 July 1943 the Fascist Grand Council forced Mussolini’s resignation and Victor Emmanuel had II Duce arrested. The King appointed BADOGLIO Prime Minister and although they promised to remain in the war the new government was soon negotiating with the Allies. On 1 September the King formally accepted the surrender terms but shortly after the Germans took over northern Italy. Badoglio and the King fled to Brindisi in southern Italy. Victor Emmanuel was too closely associated with the fascist regime and in order to insure the monarchy’s survival he agreed to give over his powers to his son, Umberto, when Rome was liberated. In June 1944 he appointed Umberto Regent, and finally abdicated in May 1946.

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