The Senate of the Kingdom of Italy (Italian: Senato del Regno d'Italia) was the upper house of the bicameral parliament of the Kingdom of Italy, officially created on 4 March 1848, acting as an evolution of the original Subalpine Senate. It was replaced on 1 January 1948 by the present-day Senate of the Republic. All of its members were appointed by the King.
The Senate of the Kingdom of Italy rose to national prominence in 1860, following the Unification of Italy, as the direct successor of the Subalpine Senate of the Kingdom of Sardinia, with the addition of members drawn from the territories obtained during the Second Italian War of Independence and the Expedition of the Thousand.
During the fascist regime, there was no "fascistisation" (fascistizzazione) of the Senate equivalent to that carried out in the lower house. Members of the Senate appointed before the March on Rome, such as Luigi Einaudi and Benedetto Croce, retained their seats in the Senate. However, in 1939, when the lower house was transformed into the Chamber of Fasces and Corporations, 211 new members were added to the Senate. When Fascism fell on 25 July 1943, King Victor Emmanuel III appointed Paolo Thaon di Revel as the President of the Senate, who he entered office on 2 August 1943.
On 20 July 1944, Pietro Tomasi Della Torretta was appointed as the final President of the Senate, an office which he retained until 25 June 1946. In August 1944, all "Senators responsible for maintaining Fascism and enabling the war, through their votes and their individual actions, including propaganda carried out within or without the Senate" were dismissed from office.
Following the 1946 institutional referendum and the election of the Constituent Assembly, the Senate of the Kingdom ceased to function on 25 June 1946. It was formally suppressed on 7 November 1947, thus bringing the Senate to extinction, although in fact it had lost almost all its limited power during the final years of the Fascist government. During the Fascist period, the Senate contained several Fascist members, but because senators held office for life, it had remained somewhat outside the Party's state system and so, over time, it was pushed ever further to the margins of political life.
The Senate of the Kingdom was the inspiration for the current Senate of the Republic, which came into existence on 1 January 1948. The existence of senators for life in the modern Senate of the Republic represents a final survival of the life-long office of the Senators of the Kingdom.
The King appointed the Senators of the Kingdom ad vitam (for life). They were entitled to slightly higher honours than the elected deputies of the lower house. In time, although remaining formally a royal power, the appointment of senators came to be carried out largely on the recommendations of the Prime Minister, who was always in a position to influence the decisions of the king and to enhance support for the government in the Senate through the appointment of "batches" of Senators. Under Article 33 of the Albertine Statute, the number of Senators was not limited, but they had to be over forty years of age and drawn from one of the following categories:
Male members of the Royal family were members of the Senate by default and sat immediately behind the President of the Senate. They began to attend the Senate once they reached twenty-one years of age and were allowed to vote once they reached twenty-five.