Princess Maria Gabriella of Savoy

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Happy Birthday to Princess Maria Gabriella of Savoy, who turns 80 today! Born Principessa Maria Gabriella Giuseppa Aldegonda Adelaide Ludovica Felicita Gennara, the middle daughter of King Umberto II of Italy and Princess Marie Jose of Belgium, she grew up in Italy until the fall of the Monarchy in 1946, following which she joined her mother and siblings in Switzerland while the King went to Portugal. Educated in Switzerland, Princess Maria Gabriella also took courses at a school associated with the Louvre in Paris. After being linked to the Shah of Iran in the 1950s, a match vetoed by the Pope, Princess Maria Gabriella married Robert Zellinger de Balkany in 1969, and the couple had one daughter, Marie Elizabeth Zellinger de Balkany, before their seperation in 1976 and their divorce in 1990. After King Umberto’s death in 1983, she launched the King Umberto II Foundation in Lausanne, dedicated to preserving the history and legacy of the House of Savoy, and has also co-authored a number of books, mostly with Stefano Papi. We wish HRH a very Happy Birthday and many Happy Returns!

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