She was loved by the Italian people mostly for her charity works in the early period of her reign. Queen studied architecture and arts but also had a degree in medicine which came handy during World War I when she helped the wounded as a nurse. She organized series of charity events and even proposed the auction of the royal jewelry to pay off the war debts.
After Montenegro lost its independence in 1918, she unsuccessfully lobbied for the rights of Montenegrins to preserve their homeland.
After Mussolini's campaigns succeeded Queen Elena of Italy became the Empress of Ethiopia and Queen of Albania. In 1941 she tried to convince her nephew Mihailo Petrović Njegoš to take the throne of the newly established puppet state - Kingdom of Montenegro, which he declined, which caused him to be sent to prison. She then convinced the Italian government to release him from the prison.
After King Victor Emmanuel ordered Mussolini to be arrested in 1943, they were forced to flee. Their daughter Mafaldine was arrested and died in German concentration camp in 1944.
The royal couple was known for their strong and loving marriage, but the height difference (Vitorio was only 1.53 high, and Elena was 20 cm higher) is still the subject of many jokes.
"La vitta e bella", the iconic Roberto Benini film, starts with the famous comic mise en scène where Benini mocks their difference in size.
Elena died in France in 1951.