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Vittorio Emanuele of Savoy, son of Italy's last king, dies aged 86

Vittorio Emanuele of Savoy, the only son of Italy's last king, who lived in exile in neighbouring Switzerland for most of his life, has died aged 86 at his home in Geneva, a note by the Royal House of Savoy said.

Born in the southern Italian city of Naples, he left his homeland as a 9-year-old when his father Umberto II was forced to leave following the 1946 national referendum which abolished the monarchy and established a republic.

He had declared himself King of Italy and long battled the rule in the Italian Constitution which barred all male members of his family from returning to the country.

Vittorio Emanuele finally returned to Italian soil in November 2022, after parliament lifted the ban, travelling to Rome for a brief visit just before Christmas and getting an audience with Pope John Paul.

But he met a cool reception on his return, the House of Savoy's image having been sullied by its World War Two era association with Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

His own reputation had been damaged when he was accused in 1978 of accidentally shooting and killing 19-year-old German Dirk Hamer in a Corsican port.

Hamer had been sleeping below deck on a boat when Vittorio Emanuele's gun went off during an altercation with holidaymakers. Hamer never recovered and he died a few months later of his injuries.

Vittorio Emanuele was eventually acquitted of the killing in a French court in 1991 and given a suspended sentence for illegal possession of a rifle.

Hamer's family had long contested the verdict and the case gained renewed attention when it formed the centrepiece of a recent Netflix documentary "The King Who Never Was".

The prince faced further legal troubles when he was arrested in 2006 on the orders of a magistrate in the