Advertisement
the aristocrat

Spain bids farewell to the eccentric, flamenco-dancing Duchess of Alba (88)

One of the nation’s richest women – worth over €600 million – she also had more royal titles than any other aristocrat on earth.

AP / Press Association Images ... With her husband, Alfonso Diez. AP / Press Association Images ... With her husband, Alfonso Diez. / Press Association Images ... With her husband, Alfonso Diez.

SPAIN’S ECCENTRIC DUCHESS of Alba, one of the nation’s richest women who has more titles than any other aristocrat on earth, has died at the age of 88.

Maria del Rosario Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart passed away at her Duenas Palace in the southern city of Seville this morning where she was surrounded by her family, a spokesman said.

Known for her frizzy hair and colourful dress sense, the duchess owned swathes of real estate, great houses and treasures including paintings by Great Masters from Goya to Velazquez.

Although she appeared to be a walking monument to the plastic surgeon’s art, she was coy on subject.

“If they forget you, you are nobody,” the twice-widowed aristocrat once told one of the Spanish celebrity magazines of which she was a fixture.

AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Her principle title was Duchess of Alba de Tormes but she had more than 40 others due to a complex series of marriages by her ancestors, which made her the noble with the most officially recognised titles in the world, according to Guinness World Records.

“She was born in high society yet knew how to walk among the people like nobody else,” Fermin Urbiola, the author of several books on European royals, who knew the duchess personally, told AFP.

Cayetana, as she is affectionately known in Spain, was born at the Liria Palace in Madrid on March 28, 1926.

A devout Roman Catholic she was a fan of pop music and bullfights, and her colourful private life drew the attention of Spain’s avid celebrity press.

“She had that duality, of being free and modern and at the same time maintaining value,” said Urbiola.

PA Archive / Press Association Images PA Archive / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

The duchess last came to international attention in 2011 when she danced flamenco at her wedding to Alfonso Diez, a civil servant 25 years her junior, who she married despite objections from her six children.

To win their approval Diez renounced any claim to the duchess’s wealth and just before the wedding she divided up much of her estate among her five sons and one daughter in her will.

However, she kept control over the assets — reputedly worth between €600 million and €3.5 billion euros — until her death.

- © AFP, 2014

Read: Almost a thousand people have died since the start of the Ukraine ceasefire

Your Voice
Readers Comments
24
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.