Brave Facts About Marie-José of Belgium, Italy’s “May Queen”

Marie-José of Belgium was the last Queen of Italy—lasting only a month. But her reign and life had more drama than could fit in a century.

1. She Was The Last—But Best

Marie-José of Belgium was queen consort of Italy from May to June of 1946, earning her the nickname “the May Queen”. But her short reign was full of drama, intrigue, subterfuge and scandalous affairs with history’s most controversial men. This last Queen of Italy proved to be the bravest—even if she kept one dark secret.

Marie-Jose of Belgium, Queen of Italy wearing a crown

Ghitta Carell, Wikimedia Commons

2. She Was Of The Highest Pedigree

Marie-José of Belgium might have been Italy’s last queen, but she wasn’t even Italian. She was born Princess Marie José Charlotte Sophie Amélie Henriette Gabrielle of Belgium in Ostend. As the youngest child and only daughter of King Albert I of Belgium and Duchess Elisabeth of Bavaria, she was, however, of the highest royal pedigree.

And not just because of her very blue blood.

Marie-Jose of Belgium, Queen of Italy as a child with her mother and siblings

API, Getty Images

3. She Loved Music

From the time she was born, Marie-José had the world laid out at her feet. She was an indisputably beautiful and intelligent child with a mind and passion for the arts. She took a particular shine to music, even studying under the “

The King of Violin”, Eugène Ysaÿe. However, she would not be able to pursue her heart’s desire.

Her parents had something else in mind.

Marie-Jose of Belgium, Queen of Italy as a child

Bain News Service, Wikimedia Commons

4. Her Parents Decided Her Fate

Born in 1906, Marie-José was a member of one of the last remaining monarchies in Europe. As such, her marriage prospects became a matter of wild speculation, even in her youth. Basically, even before she was born, her parents had already decided for her. They wanted her to marry the crown prince of Italy, Umberto, whether she liked it or not.

But before she could, catastrophe got in the way.

King Umberto Ii Of Italy As A Child

Bain News Service, Wikimedia Commons