She is a princess whose ancestors ruled southern Italy for 127 years and forever changed history during the 17th century with their avant-garde contributions to the world. Now, Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrice of Bourbon Two Sicilies is on a mission to continue the revolutionary work her family started more than 250 years ago through a new foundation she is establishing in the U.S.
Through her foundation, the princess hopes to help alleviate Italy's youth unemployment, which recently reached an all-time high, tipping 40 percent.
"It's very important to me, primarily because I'm a mother and because the youth are the future," she explains. "Even if we take care of the buildings of yesterday, the youth are still the future and there's an important bond to make between the two."
Her foundation would not only advance this education, but also restore historical buildings like the Royal Palace of Caserta, located in the town of Caserta just north of Naples. Boasting more than 1,200 rooms, the sprawling 18th century estate was built by the Bourbon rulers to rival France's Palace of Versailles.
In 1860, Princess Beatrice's family lost the kingdom and was forced into exile. The Royal Palace of Caserta is now overseen by the Italian government and is one of the largest palaces in Europe. However, amid drastic government funding cuts and a deep recession, the grand estate Princess Beatrice's ancestors erected is in dire need of restoration work.
"It's extremely important as a cultural jewel for Southern Italians," the Princess says, "and it should be known throughout the world for what it is: a gem."
The Royal Palace of Caserta has also become part of pop culture, immortalized forever thanks to Hollywood. It was used as a set for the Star Wars and Mission Impossible films. San Leucio and the Royal Palace of Caserta are both UNESCO World Heritage sites.
As a mother, businesswoman, humanitarian and princess, Her Royal Highness continues to cultivate interest in the arts among youth, proudly informs the world about her ancestors' legacy and feels great joy in promoting the importance of restoring historic buildings in Italy with all of her heart, especially since it's her family's history.
Images courtesy of H.R.H. Princess Beatrice of Bourbon Two Sicilies and Kenneth Rictor Photography
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