Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Death of Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart

The Duchess of Alba has died. She was a direct descendant of Mary Queen of Scots, whom I think she resembled, before the dreadful surgery, that is. From The Guardian:
The 18th Duchess of Alba, who has died aged 88, was one of Spain’s best-known public figures. Her frizzy hair (sometimes dyed red), waxen skin and querulous voice uttering forthright opinions made her instantly recognisable. Never camera-shy and a frequent participant in high-society events, she was a darling of the gossip magazines, television shows and, in her later years, satirists.

The duchess, known as Cayetana de Alba, was fabulously rich and Spain’s biggest private landowner. She had palaces throughout the country, including the Palacio de las Dueñas in Seville, her main residence, and the Palacio de Liria, where she was born, in Madrid. The castle to which she owed her title is in Alba de Tormes, Salamanca. She usually spent the summer at her house in Ibiza or another in Marbella.

The dukedom of Alba goes back to the 15th century, but Cayetana de Alba was only the third female member of the dynasty to be duchess in her own right. Her godparents were King Alfonso XIII and Victoria Eugenie, his English queen. She was a grandee of Spain 14 times over and possessed 46 noble titles, including Duchess of Berwick, a Jacobite title, as she was a descendant of James II (VII of Scotland) and his mistress Arabella Churchill. Her titles gave her several arcane privileges, such as not having to kneel before the pope and being permitted to ride a horse into Seville Cathedral.

Cayetana’s early life was not quite as easy as her background suggests. The 1931 declaration of the Spanish republic resulted in the expulsion of the royal family and social conflict as landless peasants fought to occupy aristocrats’ often uncultivated estates. She hardly saw her mother, María del Rosario de Silva, who was ill with tuberculosis and died when Cayetana was eight.

She had a peripatetic childhood travelling with her father, Jacobo, the 17th Duke, until he became Franco’s representative in London during the 1936-39 civil war and ambassador there from 1939 to 1945. In London, the future duchess received a broader education than she would have had in postwar Spain, and hobnobbed with her poor relations the Churchills. Her adored father introduced her into the world of painting and the arts in general; the huge Alba private collection includes paintings by El Greco, Velázquez, Titian, Rembrandt and Goya. (Read more.)
Pictures from funeral Mass, HERE.
At first wedding in 1947
With first husband
With first husband Luis de Irujo and their six children

With Queen Sofia and the family portait of Goya's Cayetana de Alba

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