It has been reported that the Spanish aristocrat, The Duchess of Alba, died yesterday morning at Duenas Palace in Seville.
The Duchess passed away at the age of 88 after contracting pneumonia. It is said that The Duchess’ husband, Alfonso Diez Carabantes, was at her bedside when she passed away.
The Duchess is renowned for her eccentric lifestyle, having possessed a fortune of £2.4 billion and was regularly featured in gossip magazines and on television chat shows.
Being born Maria del Rosario Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart, she was famously the most titled noble in world, holding 40 noble titles and 150 hereditary titles – many more than our Queen. The Duchess also held a rightful lineage to the Scottish Stuart dynasty, therefore making her a contender for the Scottish throne had Scotland gained independence in the recent referendum. She was also a distant relative to Diana, Princess of Wales, and Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
The 18th Duchess of Alba married three times during her life. She was first married at the age of 21 to aristocratic naval officer, Pedro Luis Martinez de Irujo y Artazcoz, at a wedding supposedly costing £1.4 million in Seville Cathedral. The Duchess gave birth to six children before her husband’s death in 1972. She made the headlines six years later when she married a defrocked Jesuit priest, Jesus Aguirre y Ortiz de Zarate. She was widowed again when he passed away in 2001.
Much to the surprise of some, The Duchess announced in 2011 that she planned to marry for a third time – this time to her long-term companion, Alfonso Diez Carabantes, who was 24 years younger than her. This marriage was disapproved by King Juan Carlos and caused notable difficulties among her children. After announcing the marriage plans, The Duchess publicly renouncing her vast wealth in order to marry her long-term partner.
The Duchess was once renowned for being a society beauty, and later underwent a number of plastic surgery procedures. She played hostess to a number of international names, including Audrey Hepburn, designer Yves Saint Laurent and Jackie Kennedy. Even in her autobiography, The Duchess revealed that she once turned down the opportunity to become a muse for artist Pablo Picasso.
It is believed that her fortune that she renounced was inherited and split between her six children and eight grandchildren.