Wealthy Duchess of Alba gives it up for love

One of Spain's richest women, the Duchess of Alba, is giving up her money in order to marry a civil servant who is 24 years younger.

The duchess’s personal wealth is estimated at between EUR600m and EUR3.5bn and she has already given her six children and eight grandchildren a palace each.

However, to get around her children's opposition to her wish to marriage PR man, Alfonso Diez, she is giving them all their inheritance in advance.

As head of the 539-year-old House of Alba, 85, her privileges include not having to kneel before the pope and the right to ride on horseback into Seville cathedral.

The duchess and Diez, a civil servant in the department of social security who also runs a PR business, have been close friends for a number of years, the Guardian reports.

Her six children were all borne from her first marriage to Pedro Luis Martinez de Irujo y Artazcoz, son of the Duke of Sotomayor, who died in 1972.

The Guardian reports:

The duchess, who is rumoured to have undergone extensive cosmetic surgery, shocked the nation when in 1978 she remarried, this time to the former Jesuit priest and intellectual, Jesus Aguirre y Ortiz de Zarate.

Aguirre, who died in 2001, was illegitimate, something scandalous even in 1970s Spain.

In 2008 it appeared that the proposed marriage to Diez had been called off when the House of Alba issued a statement saying that the relationship ‘‘was based on a long friendship and there are no plans to marry’’. The statement came after an alleged telephone call from King Juan Carlos discouraging the duchess from marrying Diez.

But whatever the king thinks it now appears the duchess is going ahead with the marriage, and the details have now emerged of how she plans to overcome her children’s opposition: by giving them their inheritance in advance, even though Diez has signed a document renouncing any claim to her wealth.

‘‘Alfonso doesn’t want anything. All he wants is me,’’ she said earlier this year.

According to the Spanish newspaper El Pais, her eldest son Carlos will inherit the Liria Palace in Madrid and the Monterrey Palace in Salamanca, BBC reports.

Her other palaces and thousands of hectares of land will be divided between her children and eight grandchildren, the report said.

Much of the patrimony is managed by a foundation and cannot be sold, it says.

According to Wikipedia, her full title is The Most Excellent Doña María del Rosario Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart y Silva, 18th Duchess of Alba de Tormes, Grandee of Spain.

She is the current head of the House of Alba and the third woman to carry the title in her own right.

The Duchess is a descendant of King James II of England, through his illegitimate son James Fitz-James, Duke of Berwick (1670–1734), born of a relationship with Arabella Churchill, only sister of the great Duke of Marlborough, making her a distant relative of both Sir Winston Churchill and Diana, Princess of Wales, descendants of Arabella's daughter Henrietta FitzJames.