Giovanna of Italy

Giovanna of Italy (Bulgarian: Йоанна Савойска, Ioanna Savoiska, Italian: Giovanna Elisabetta Antonia Romana Maria) (13 November 1907 – 26 February 2000) was an Italian princess of the House of Savoy who later became the Tsaritsa of Bulgaria by marriage to Boris III of Bulgaria.

Giovanna of Savoy
Giovanna of Italy 1932.jpg
Giovanna, 1932
Tsaritsa consort of Bulgaria
Tenure25 October 1930 – 28 August 1943
Born(1907-11-13)13 November 1907
Rome, Kingdom of Italy
Died26 February 2000(2000-02-26) (aged 92)
Estoril, Portuguese Riviera
Communal Cemetery of Assisi
SpouseBoris III of Bulgaria
IssueMarie Louise, Princess of Koháry
Simeon II of Bulgaria
Italian: Giovanna Elisabetta Antonia Romana Maria
FatherVictor Emmanuel III of Italy
MotherElena of Montenegro
ReligionRoman Catholicism


Princess Giovanna of Savoy as a child

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.

Tsaritsa of BulgariaEdit

Giovanna of Italy, in 1937, during her reign of Queen consort of Bulgaria

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 formerly 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.

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 15 September 1946, when the new Communist government gave them 48 hours to leave the country because the state was declared republic after a referendum, although the queen wanted to leave Bulgaria after the execution of Prince Kiril on 1 February 1945. [1]

Late yearsEdit

Royal Monogram of Queen Joanna of Bulgaria
Styles of
Tsaritsa (Queen) Giovanna of the Bulgarians
Reference styleHer Majesty
Spoken styleYour Majesty

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, on the Portuguese Riviera, 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, honours and armsEdit


  • 13 November 1907 – 25 October 1930: Her Royal Highness Princess Giovanna of Savoy
  • 25 October 1930 – 28 August 1943: Her Majesty The Queen Consort of Bulgaria
  • 28 August 1943 – 26 February 2000: Her Majesty The Queen Mother of Bulgaria





Coat of Arms of Queen Giovanna
of Bulgaria




  • Boris III of Bulgaria 1894–1943, by Pashanko Dimitroff, London, 1986, ISBN 0-86332-140-2
  • Crown of Thorns by Stephane Groueff, Lanham MD., and London, 1987, ISBN 0-8191-5778-3
  • The Daily Telegraph, Obituary for "HM Queen Ioanna of the Bulgarians", London, 28 February 2000.


Giovanna of Italy
Born: 13 November 1907 Died: 26 February 2000
Royal titles
Title last held by
Eleonore Reuss of Köstritz
Tsaritsa of Bulgaria
25 October 1930 – 28 August 1943