I have to admit it’s one of my guilty pleasures. Occasionally following the bizarre rantings, ravings and revelations about politicians, celebrities and certain members of the Royal Family is entertaining. Perhaps I harbour a secret jealousy or admiration for those who do what they want without fear of ridicule or consequences. Maybe there’s a petty little side of me which finds it hearwarming to see that even the privileged and successful have set-backs.
The Grand Duchess
Spanish culture however, is rather more concerned about what others might think or say, el que diran. That does not mean there is an absence of well- loved eccentrics and few are greater than the Grand Duchess of Alba.
Her name is Maria del Rosario Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart y Silva and she is the 18th Duchess of Alba, Spain. Born in 1926 she is a descendent of King James II and therefore a distant relative of both Princess Diana and Sir Winston Churchill (source http://www.seguilamoda.com/ver_nota.php?id=cayetanaalba ).
Hers is one of the wealthiest families in Spain. This wealth has grown through marriages resulting in an accumulation of lands, palaces, buildings, stocks and shares and an unbelievable art collection. As a child I remember being told that the Duchess could travel across the whole of Spain, North to South, without ever setting foot outside her own lands. Urban legend? Who knows. She purportedly owns some 34,000 hectares which is approximately 170 times the size of Monaco. (source http://blogs.ua.es/duquedealba/category/patrimonio/ )
At the age of 8 her mother passed away and two years later, due to the Civil War she had to flee to England. From her first marriage she has six children. After twenty five years of married life her husband passed away. The Duchess shocked the sensitivity of many people by choosing for her second husband a man who had previously been a Catholic priest. But she was not to be deterred from her choice. He too passed away in 2001. Cayetana, the Duchess continued with a “normal” life; bullfights, charity events, family life and attending receptions with the Royal Family. She loves Seville, the fair, is spotted in street markets in Ibiza and the press just cannot get enough of her. The people love her.
Husband number three
On the 5th of October 2011 the 85 year old lady married a 60 year old civil servant who had been a bachelor all his life. Her children opposed the wedding right from the beginning but once the Duchess drew up her will and shared out her property the arrangements proceeded without much of a hitch. Most of her children attended the wedding.
YouTube videos of the Duchess
http://youtu.be/9Qxne8XzZ1 The Duchess over the years.
http://youtu.be/tPF1hyKeDn The Duchess just after her 3rd Wedding, aged over 85.
At the end of the day we rarely please everybody so at the very least we should please ourselves. At least from time to time. Like the Duchess. What do you think?