Princess Hélène, Duchess of Aosta

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Today marks the 70th Anniversary of the Death of Princess Hélène, Duchess of Aosta, who died on this day in 1951! The eldest daughter of Prince Philippe, Count of Paris, and Princess Marie Isabelle d’Orléans, Princess Hélène d’Orléans born in exile in London, before the family returned to France in 1871, and resided at the Hôtel Matignon in Paris and the Château d’Eu in Normandy, though had to go back into exile after the lavish wedding of her sister, Queen Amélie of Portugal in 1886. While she was also linked to the future Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, Princess Hélène had a failed courtship with the Duke of Clarence, set to be the future King of the United Kingdom, but that fell through due to a difference in religion. In 1895, Princess Hélène married Prince Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy, the 2nd Duke of Aosta, son of former King Amadeo I of Spain and a grandson of the first King of Italy, who was then the second in line to the Italian throne. The couple had two sons, Prince Amedeo, 3rd Duke of Aosta and Prince Aimone, 4th Duke of Aosta who also briefly reigned as King Tomislav II of Croatia. After being widowed in 1931, Princess Hélène married Colonel Otto Campini in 1936. After her marriage, the Duchess of Aosta was a noted traveller and big-game hunter, which was recorded in her columns for Harper’s Weekly and later in travel books. The Duchess also trained as a nurse and after working on a hospital ship during the Italo-Turkish war, Princess Hélène became the Head of the Italian Red Cross during World War I for which she received Italian Silver Medal for Bravery, the Romanian Regina Maria Cross, the French Croix de Guerre, and the Insignia of a Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire. The Duchess continued to be an active member of the Italian Royal Family, staying at the Capodimonte Palace in Naples where she was very popular, until the end of the Italian Monarchy in 1946, following which she continued to reside in Naples while the rest of the Royal Family were exiled, including her grandchildren, the current Duke of Aosta and Princess Margherita, Archduchess of Austria-Este. Princess Hélène, Duchess of Aosta passed away on this day in 1951, and is buried in the Basilica of the Incoronata Madre del Buon Consiglio in Naples.

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