Giovanna of Italy

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Giovanna Elisabetta Antonia Romana Maria
Extra names:
Иоанна Болгарская, Giovanna Elisabetta Antonia Romana Maria di Savoia, Джованна Элизабетта Антония Романа Мария Савойская, Йоанна Савойска,
Princess, Tsar (emperor)
 bulgarian, italian
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Giovanna of Italy (Bulgarian: Йоанна Савойска, Italian: Giovanna Elisabetta Antonia Romana Maria) (13 November 1907 – 26 February 2000) was the Tsaritsa of Bulgaria.


Giovanna was born in Rome, the third daughter and fourth child of King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy and Queen Elena, former Princess of Montenegro. Upon her Roman Catholic christening, she was given the names Giovanna Elisabetta Antonia Romana Maria. Her older brother was the future Italian king Umberto II of Italy.

Marriage and children

Giovanna married Tsar Boris III of Bulgaria in the Basilica of St Francis of Assisi, Assisi in October 1930, in a Roman Catholic ceremony, attended by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. Bulgarians deemed her a good match, partly because her mother, Elena of Montenegro, was of Slavic ethnicity. At a second ceremony in Sofia, Giovanna (who herself was daughter of a Roman Catholic father and a born Orthodox mother) was married in an Eastern Orthodox Church ceremony, bringing her into conflict with the Roman Catholic Church. Giovanna adopted the Bulgarian version of her name, Ioanna. Giovanna knew the Pope's Apostolic Visitor to Bulgaria, Archbishop Angelo Roncalli, the future Pope John XXIII who was able to help her. She and Boris had two children: Marie Louise of Bulgaria, born in January 1933, and then the future Simeon II of Bulgaria in 1937.

In the years prior to World War II, Tsaritsa Ioanna became heavily involved in charities, including the financing of a children's hospital. During the war she counterbalanced her husband consigning Bulgaria to the Axis by obtaining transit visas to enable a number of Jews to escape to Argentina. Tsar Boris also proved less malleable than Hitler had hoped, and following a meeting in Berlin in August 1943, the Tsar became seriously ill and died, aged 49. Stress and a heart condition were the official reasons for his death. Ioanna's son, Simeon, became the new tsar and a regency was established, led by his uncle Prince Kyril, who was considered more pliable by the Germans.

Late Years

In the dying days of the Second World War, Bulgaria was invaded by the Soviet Union. Prince Kyril was tried by a People's Court and subsequently executed. Giovanna and her son Simeon remained under house arrest at Vrana Palace, near Sofia, until 1946, when the new Communist government gave them 48 hours to leave the country. After initially fleeing to Alexandria in the Kingdom of Egypt, to join her father, King Victor Emmanuel III, they moved on to Madrid. In 1962 Simeon II married and Queen Giovanna moved to Estoril, Portugal, where she lived for the rest of her life, apart from a brief return to Bulgaria in 1993, when she visited the site of Boris's grave and was present at the reburial of his heart. During this last visit to Bulgaria she received a cordial welcome, and thousands of people went on the streets to greet her.

She is buried in the Communal Cemetery of Assisi, Italy, where she had married King Boris III in 1930.

Titles, styles and honours

  • 13 November 1907 – 25 October 1930Her Royal Highness Princess Giovanna of Savoy
  • 25 October 1930 – 28 August 1943Her Majesty The Queen of Bulgaria
  • 28 August 1943 – 26 February 2000Her Majesty Queen Ioanna of Bulgaria
Honours National honours
  • Kingdom of Italy House of Savoy: Knight Grand Cordon of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus
    •  Sovereign Military Order of Malta: Knight Grand Cross Honour and Devotion of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, 3rd First Class
    • Kingdom of the Two Sicilies Royal Family of Two Sicilies: Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Francis I
  • Bulgaria House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha-Koháry: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Alexander
Foreign honours
  • Austria-Hungary Austrian Imperial and Royal Family: Dame of the Imperial and Royal Order of the Starry Cross
  • Kingdom of Bavaria Bavarian Royal Family: Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Theresa
  • Russian Empire Russian Imperial Family: Dame Grand Cordon of the Imperial Order of Saint Catherine
  • Kingdom of Yugoslavia Yugoslavian Royal Family: Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Saint Sava


  •  Bulgaria: Patron of the 10th Cavalry regiment of Queen Ioanna


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        Relation nameRelation typeBirth DateDeath dateDescription
        1Vittorio  Emanuele IIIVittorio Emanuele IIIFather11.11.186928.12.1947
        2Princess Elena Petrović - Njegoš of MontenegroPrincess Elena Petrović - Njegoš of MontenegroMother08.01.187328.11.1952
        3Princess Mafalda of SavoyPrincess Mafalda of SavoySister02.11.190227.08.1944
        4Maria  Francesca of SavoyMaria Francesca of SavoySister26.12.191404.12.2001
        5Boris III of BulgariaBoris III of BulgariaHusband30.01.189428.08.1943
        6Зорка ЧерногорскаяЗорка ЧерногорскаяAunt23.12.186416.03.1890
        7Анна Петрович-НегошАнна Петрович-НегошAunt18.08.187422.04.1971
        8Анастасия ЧерногорскаяАнастасия ЧерногорскаяAunt23.12.186825.11.1935
        9Милица ЧерногорскаяМилица ЧерногорскаяAunt26.07.186605.09.1951
        10Дмитрий  РомановДмитрий РомановNephew17.05.192631.12.2016
        11Prince Heinrich of Hesse-KasselPrince Heinrich of Hesse-KasselNephew30.11.192718.11.1999
        12Moritz  of HesseMoritz of HesseNephew06.08.192623.05.2013
        13князь Николай  Романовкнязь Николай РомановNephew00.00.192215.09.2014
        14Фердинанд I (царь Болгарии)Фердинанд I (царь Болгарии)Father in-law26.02.186110.09.1948
        15Princess Maria Luisa of  Bourbon-ParmaPrincess Maria Luisa of Bourbon-ParmaMother in-law17.01.187931.01.1899
        16Prince PhilippPrince PhilippBrother in-law06.11.189625.10.1980
        17Никола I ПетровичНикола I ПетровичGrandfather07.10.184101.03.1921
        18Милена Петрович-НегошМилена Петрович-НегошGrandmother27.04.184716.03.1923
        19Мирко Петрович-НегошМирко Петрович-НегошGreat grandfather19.08.182020.07.1867
        20Марина  РомановаМарина РомановаCousin11.03.189215.05.1981
        21Князь Роман ПетровичКнязь Роман ПетровичCousin17.10.189623.10.1978
        22Jelena KarađorđevićJelena KarađorđevićCousin04.11.188416.10.1962
        23Надежда  РомановаНадежда РомановаCousin15.03.189821.04.1988
        24Vittorio EmanueleVittorio EmanueleRelative12.02.193703.02.2024
        25Zita  of Bourbon-ParmaZita of Bourbon-ParmaDistant relative09.05.189214.03.1989

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