Spanish duchess gives away fortune to marry civil servant
She is one of the richest women in Spain, owns a dozen castles whose walls are hung with works by Goya, Velázquez and Titian. Now, however, Maria del Rosario Cayetana Alfonsa Victoria Eugenia Francisca Fitz-James Stuart y de Silva, the 18th Duchess of Alba, is giving away her immense personal fortune in order to be free to marry a minor civil servant.
The children of the duchess, 85, have until now blocked her plans to marry Alfonso Díez, 24 years her junior. In 2008 it appeared that the proposed marriage to Díez 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 Díez.
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 Díez 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.
The duchess insists she is not that wealthy. "I have a lot of artworks, but I can't eat them, can I?" she has protested. The art that she cannot eat includes, aside from hundreds of paintings, a first edition of Don Quixote, Columbus' first map of America and the last will and testament of Fernando the Catholic, father of Catherine of Aragon.