Today sadly commemorates the death in 1925 of one of the most iconic historical figures in the modern European century that was a living testament to fidelity to the people who acclaimed her their monarch.
Her late Majesty, Queen Maria Sofia Amalia of the Two Sicilies, born, Duchess in Bavaria, married King Francesco II of the Two Sicilies, "the Good" in 1859. The young popular sovereigns soon shared the turbulence of invasion, international conspiracy, treachery and abandonment that followed the brutal invasion of the Two Sicilies by 150,000 Piedmontese troops without a declaration of war. The Queen, forever knows as the "Heroine of Gaeta" defied offers of sanctuary and stood on the ramparts of the Fortress of Gaeta for months caring for the wounded and dying Neapolitan troops. She was everywhere challenging the Piedmontese cannons. Her bravery stiffened the resistance of the loyal forces until resistance could only be had at the price of the wholesale slaughter of the civilian population of the Faithful City of Gaeta.
The Queen and King continued to encourage the civilian popular resistance in the the Kingdom during their forced retreat to the Papal States until 1870. Irregular forces in the Kingdom were inspired in their sacrifices to liberate their homeland until 1885; it is a period that was marked by forced immigration, repression of the peasantry, massive executions of the civilian population and enslavement of the Two Sicilies troops who had surrendered under the promised guise of amnesty.
Maria Safia was tireless in her pleas to the monarchs of Europe to recognize the plight of the enslavement of the Two Sicilies. She adamantly refused to recognize the legitimacy of the unitary state and died a proud Queen of the Two Sicilies in Munich in 1925.
Her life has been heralded by international authors as diverse as Marcel Proust and Gabriele D'Annunzio. The pre-eminent Italian anti fascist philosopher from Naples, Benedetto Croce has labeled her the best and most exemplary Queen that Naples every had. Modern Italian author Luigi Barzini referred to her as the most courageous Neapolitan in modern times. Most importantly, the people of Naples still recognize her as the Queen in their hearts and to this day, the name "Sofia" is the most popular female baby name in Naples.
We could write for hours on the life and tragedy of Queen Maria Sofia, but on this day its more important to thank God that she lived and died one of our consorelle.
The Constantinian Order had been the prerogative exclusively of males. After the death of HM King Francesco II, his brother and heir, HRH Prince Alfonso II, Count of Caserta, changed the statues of the Order and bestowed the dignity of Dame Grand Cross on HM Queen Maria Sofia. She thus became the FIRST female member of the Order.
Eternal Rest Grant o Lord unto our Queen and Consorella as she lies in state at the Basilica of Santa Chiara alongside King Francesco II and their only child, the infant, Princess Maria Pia Cristina.
Chancellor, US Delegation