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For sheer factual innaccuracy and confusion Roger Clarke's article takes the biscuit.

The trailer on the front page of the main section of Saturday's Independent talks of "...the exiled king of Italy until he killed himself". Surely logic dictates that to be an "exiled king" you actually need to have been king when exiled? Prince Rafaello was never king, in fact he was not even born when his grandfather King Umberto II (now deceased) went into exile after the vote for a republic in 1946...

The story changes in the Magazine, where in "The Italian Royal Family Tree - the Savoys", we are told that Rafaello was "Crown Prince of Italy". Apart from the fact that such a title has never been used in Italy, Rafaello clearly was not what the use of that title was intended to suggest - heir apparent - since his uncle, Prince Vittorio Emmanuele, the pretender to the Italian throne, has a son.

The family tree further shows that Rafaello's mother, Princess Maria- Beatrice, is the sister of Queen Maria-Jos (widow of Umberto II). She was not, however, Maria-Jos's sister, but her daughter! Hence Rafaello could not have been the queen's "favourite nephew" (perhaps the latter error was the result of a mistranslation of the Italian word nipote, which can mean either nephew or grandson).

After these corrections, it will seem nit-picking on my part to point out that the name of King Vittorio Emmanuele III's consort was misspelt - it was Elena and not Eleana.

john pollard

Professor of History, Anglia University