After so many decades of research, one would think that the twenty-year Fascist era in Italy no longer held any secrets. And yet, paradoxically, one of the key features of the regime - that is, the cohabitation of the monarchy and the fascist government, the relationship between the King and the Duce - has never been adequately explored by historians. Fascism was a peculiar dictatorship, which counted on the "hospitality", so to speak, of the pre-existing monarchy. It was a diarchy, a two-headed system led by Vittorio Emanuele III, the sovereign, and Mussolini, the head of government. This book astutely describes how the "Fascist monarchy" came to be, recounting the skirmishes and the agreements that accompanied its existence, at both the political-institutional level and in terms of symbols: pageantry, priorities, public appearances. Their co-existence was a subtle balancing act, in which it is hard to say whether Fascism took advantage of the monarchy or it was the other way around.
Paolo Colombo teaches History of Contemporary Constitutional Systems in the Political Science Faculty at the Catholic University in Milan.