On April 29th nobody from Italy's royal family, the House of Savoy, will be present at Britain's royal wedding. Instead, the Head of the House of the Two Sicilies will be attending. An academic issue, to be sure - Italy's monarchy, which swallowed up Sicily's in 1861, was abolished in 1946. But slightly significant (perhaps disappointing) in a year that finds Italy celebrating 150 years of unification initially achieved under Garibaldi and the Savoys. The men who would be king are Vittorio Emanuele of Savoy and (on the Sicilian-Neapolitan side) Carlo di Borbone, whose family ruled Sicily from 1734 until 1860.
Both princes are contested by envious cousins, and it is thought that the Savoys have been blacklisted from Westminster Abbey because of an incident in 2004 between Vittorio Emanuele and his cousin, Amedeo, who has advanced a rival claim to headship of the House of Savoy. (The two Savoys came to blows at a reception at the wedding of Prince Felipe of Spain.) Squabbles and vendettas are hardly unusual in Italian families, even royal ones, but our Savoys should learn to behave.
The disputes are all highly theoretical, as Italians are unlikely to restore the Savoy monarchy, which brought Fascism and death to so many - both in Italy and abroad. The last king of the Two Sicilies (Naples and Sicily), Francis II, died in exile in 1894, survived by his queen, Maria Sofia, who lived until 1925.