Queen Elizabeth and Italy: 25 years celebrated in Rome
The twenty-fifth birthday celebrated in Rome, the relatives in Fiesole, a delicious cake flown directly from the capital to Buckingham Palace every year: there are many and intimate memories that the Queen Elizabeth II had with Italy.
Five official trips, one when he was still princessfour as a queen, and each lasted more than the protocol days provided for by the ceremonial to be able to enjoy the beauty, culture and even the cuisine (except spaghetti) of a country much loved by husband Philip.
As shown by the same number of private trips over about seventy years. The numbers are obviously record-breaking: Elizabeth of Windsor met five presidents of the republic and five popes in his visits to Rome, he received many presidents and popes instead in London.
Nothing ever leaked out of the talks, there Queen does not officially deal with politics, the president has an institutional role, but over the decades the bond between the heads of state of Italy and Great Britain have always been of the utmost respect, cordiality and sometimes even a never denied agreement of views on the issues long-term.
Queen Elizabeth, five official trips to Italy
The first trip to Italy dates back to her years as a young princess, in love with the husband Philipwith whom he celebrated a villa Adriana in Tivoli 25th birthday. The official part of the visit, more than a week in April 1951, included the meeting at the Quirinale with the then president of the Luigi Einaudi Republic in a lunch (the ceremonial of the Palace speaks of an ‘intimate breakfast’, that is, unofficial or of state) with the president of the Alcide De Gasperi Council.
It was also an opportunity to be received by Pope Pius XII in private hearing. He resided at Villa Wolkonsky, the residence of the English ambassador in Rome. With Francesca De Gasperi he visited an orphanage in the Roman suburbs, then some of the most famous places in Rome while the Prince Philip participated in a polo tournament.
The couple was hosted by Princess Isabelle at a reception in their honor in the frescoed halls of Palazzo Colonna, then went to Florence, to Villa Sparta on the hills of Fiesole, in view of titled relatives and when the princess returned to London, her husband still remained a few days in Italy to continue the private visit.
Regina Elisabetta, the most loved Italian cities and the aversion to spaghetti
Among the favorite destinations for private visits are the cities of Naples, Florence, Turin, the countryside of Barumini, in Sardinia, to visit the nuraghe of Su Nuraxi, but also the island of Vulcano in the Aeolian Islands, Palermo, complete with dinner at Palazzo Gangi, set of the ‘Gattopardò’. Always hosted by relatives and friends of ancient lineage.
Italian cuisine is much appreciated, so much so that every year it is said that the a thousand leaves of a famous Roman pastry shop take flight to reach the Buckingham Palace table, and of Brunello di Montalcino, loved by the couple who wanted it on their wedding menu. But an absolute prohibition that somewhat blurs this passion: the queen did not eat spaghetti, the protocol did not provide for it.
The official visits, once the crown was worn, were therefore four, always accompanied by her husband Philip. The May 3, 1961 Elisabetta arrived in Rome, welcomed by the President Giuseppe Gronchi and his wife Carla. For the occasion, Gronchi ordered Lancia to supply four Flaminia 335 cars, the car that still accompanies the newly elected presidents to the Quirinale and on which Elisabetta crossed Rome accompanied by the then Minister of Defense Giulio Andreotti.
For the royal couple, the Head of State gave a reception in the ballroom, with the ladies in long dresses and the queen in a white dress encrusted with crystals and a crown. Another ball went down in history, the one offered to her by Princess Isabelle in the frescoed halls of Palazzo Colonna. The visit continued with stops at the Capitoline Museums and Palazzo Barberini, then a trip to the Capannelle hippodrome to confirm the passion for horse racing.
Queen Elizabeth in Italy: visits to the Pope and meetings at the Quirinale
The May 5 Elizabeth II was received by Pope John XXIII, engaged in the preparation of the Second Vatican Council, which asked her for the baptismal names of her children. Then in Venice on May 6, complete with a visit to San Marco and a boat trip to the island of Torcello: finally back to Florence for a private meeting with Elena of Romania and Irene of Greece.
Nineteen years later, the October 14, 1980, Elizabeth II was received by the President Sandro Pertini, who offered an official dinner to the royals in the ballroom. But the room that the queen loves the most is that of the Torrino, from which you can enjoy one of the most beautiful views of Rome and in which the presidents host informal lunches. Another room of the Quirinale which Elizabeth is particularly fond of is that of Drusus, next to the salon of the Head of State.
Also during that visit the queen was received by the pope, then John Paul II, whom she met again on the next trip. At the end of their stay in Rome, Elisabetta and her husband reached Palermo, aboard the Britannia yacht. The queen went first to the Cathedral of Monreale and then to the Palatine Chapel, complete with a greeting to the people from the balcony of the Palazzo dei Normanni.
And the queen returned to Palermo on a private visit, for a stopover on an official journey to Malta. It was 1992, Palermo was shocked by the mafia attack who had gutted the highway in Capaci, killing Giovanni Falcone, his wife and three escort agents. Elisabetta and Filippo landed in Punta Raisi and the procession stopped on the highway, the royals got out of the car, Elisabetta was astonished and heard murmuring: “incredible”. She then she with her husband stopped for a prayer in front of the crown of flowers that a few days earlier had been deposed by the then President of the Republic, Oscar Luigi Scalfaro.
On her third visit, the queen stayed at the Quirinale. It was October 2000 and Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, with his wife Carla, welcomed her into the palace hosting her and her husband while the entourage stayed at a nearby hotel. With Ciampi, the queen, in addition to the usual official lunch, attended the horse show in Piazza di Siena. She then she attended a breakfast offered by the then Prime Minister, Giuliano Amato, at Villa Madama, with stylists and ministers. The royal couple then flew to Milan received by the mayor Gabriele Albertini: in her honor a concert was held at the Scala, directed by Riccardo Muti, with whom the queen had a long conversation. Small curiosity: Enrico Letta, a very young Minister of Industry, was appointed to accompany her for her government.
Two meetings with Giorgio Napolitano: the first time president and Regina met on 13 October 2006 in London and the second on 3 April 2014 in Rome. Giorgio Napolitano and his wife Clio welcomed the couple almost at the end of the President’s second seven-year term, with whom relations were always very cordial. The following year the queen will receive Sergio Mattarella, who has just been elected, at Buckingham Palace. Those were the months before Brexit and most likely the referendum was one of the hot topics of the confrontation. The President appealed against the posting of the United Kingdom. No comment from the Queen, but the political ‘reading’ of her hat with the European colors, blue and yellow, is now history.
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