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Despite Italy banishing its own royal family decades ago, the British monarch was on Thursday greeted with adoration in Rome. The Local headed out onto the streets of the capital and found Queen Elizabeth II proved more popular among Italians than their own president.
The 87-year-old Queen touched down in Rome on Thursday morning for a one-day tour, having lunch with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano before heading across town for her first meeting with Pope Francis.
While the elderly royal was waited upon at the presidential palace, The Local found Italians bounding with enthusiasm at her arrival.
“She’s number one! She’s an important figure that we’re missing here in Italy,” one Italian said.
Close to the British Embassy, Amedeo Padrenostro said that the royal visit was “positive” and that the Queen was a “symbol” to be admired.
“Napolitano doesn’t do anything, he’s a clown. She spends less than him,” he told The Local, repeating a common complaint among Italians of the cost of the presidential palace in Rome.
At a nearby coffee bar, an Italian woman praised the virtues of the British monarch. “She’s very likeable. Of course I don’t know her personally, but she has a good persona,” Alessandra Iachini told The Local.
“We also had a royal family…but it’s not possible now,” she said. The Italian royal family were exiled in the 1940s after supporting fascist leader Benito Mussolini, and only allowed to return to the country in 2002.
But Manuella Vetro, at a newspaper stand in Rome, said a monarchy would be welcome and could do a better job of running the country than Italian politicians.
“The politicians are paid too much,” she told The Local, while the British queen was “very capable and active”.
Below her sat copies of Italy’s Chi magazine, emblazoned with a photograph of British Prince William and his young family.
According to Iachini, the British royals are popular because “they give us news”, which Italians are interested in, whether it be the latest baby photo or a visit from the head of the household herself, Queen Elizabeth II.
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