Isola di Cavallo

By Christos Zampounis

Between Corsica and Sardinia is a private island, which is French territory although it has an Italian name. Prince Vittorio Emanuele of Savoy, son of the fourth and last king of Italy, Umberto II, decided to build a country house there. His father had lost his throne in 1946, in an unfair, as it turned out in retrospect, referendum, and the son settled permanently in Gstaad, Switzerland. So far, nothing shocking enough to prompt Netflix to order a documentary about his life. Everything changed when a blue blood by marriage, Beatrice Casiraghi, daughter-in-law of Princess Caroline of Monaco, brought to light recorded documents in which Vitorio Emanuele confesses to shooting a German tourist who had illegally entered his island and used his tender to move around. The case made headlines in 1978, when the incident occurred, and the unfortunate Dirk Hamer was taken to Corsica, where doctors amputated his leg. The deposed heir to the throne of Italy was also sent to Napoleon’s island prison.

Two months later, he was released pending his trial. Meanwhile, the 19-year-old German died a few weeks later in Heidelberg, where he was transported. The sequel is a courtroom thriller with many twists and turns, “butter on the bread” of the streaming platform. The success of 37-year-old Beatrice, nee’ Borromeo, owners of the famous private islands in Lago Maggiore, is that she has secured interviews with all the protagonists of the case, including the alleged killer, who pleads not guilty, although she does not hide her dislike for his family. The title of the documentary, moreover, suggests a disparaging attitude towards a man who had long since lost all hope of returning to his throne, but the hidden protagonist is his private island of Isola di Cavallo, which even the richest inhabitant of the planet, Bernard Arnault, dreamed of owning.

The documentary “The King Who Never Was” aired for the first time on Netflix on July 4.



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