Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart, 18th Duchess of Alba

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Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart

Cayetana Duchess of Alba in 2005
María del Rosario Cayetana Paloma Alfonsa Victoria Eugenia Fernanda Teresa Francisca de Paula Lourdes Antonia Josefa Fausta Rita Castor Dorotea Santa Esperanza Fitz-James Stuart Silva

(1926-03-28)28 March 1926
Died20 November 2014(2014-11-20) (aged 88)
Luis Martínez de Irujo y Artázcoz
(m. 1947; died 1972)
(m. 1978; died 2001)
Alfonso Díez Carabantes
(m. 2011)
ChildrenFive sons, one daughter
FamilyHouse of Alba branch of Fitz-James Stuart

María del Rosario Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart y Silva, 18th Duchess of Alba GE (28 March 1926 – 20 November 2014) was one of the most senior aristocrats in Spain, as well as the most titled aristocrat in the world, a record now held by Princess Victoria of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, 20th Duchess of Medinaceli.


Born in Liria Palace in Madrid on 28 March 1926, Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart was the only child of the 17th Duke of Alba (a prominent Spanish politician and diplomat during the 1930s and 1940s) and his wife, María del Rosario de Silva y Gurtubay, 9th Marchioness of San Vicente del Barco. She was the eighth great granddaughter of James II and VII. Her godparents were Queen Victoria Eugenie and King Alfonso XIII of Spain.


As a socialite, the Duchess met famous VIPs from Spain and abroad. Jackie Kennedy visited her Seville palace, as did Wallis Simpson, Princess Grace and Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, Queen Anne-Marie of Greece and King Constantine II of Greece. In 1959, the Duchess, together with designer Yves Saint Laurent, hosted a Dior show for charitable purposes in her Liria Palace, Madrid, a palace which movie stars Charlton Heston, Sophia Loren, Audrey Hepburn and Raf Vallone visited. In her youth the Duchess posed for Richard Avedon and Cecil Beaton and she appeared on the cover of Time and Harper's Bazaar.

She was inducted into Vanity Fair's International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame[1] in 2011.


On 12 October 1947, the Duchess married Don Luis Martínez de Irujo y Artázcoz (1919–1972), younger son of the Duke of Sotomayor and his wife Ana María de Artázcoz y Labayen (1892–1930), court lady of Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain.[2] The wedding in Spain, two years after the end of World War II, resisted the decline in frequency of very extravagant European weddings among high nobility and attracted the attention of the international media. The New York Times called it "the most expensive wedding of the world."[3] It was reported that 20 million pesetas (equivalent to $10,000,000 rounded in 2015) was spent.

Six children were born of this marriage:

The Duchess (left) horse riding with bullfighter Ángel Peralta in 1961

Widowed in 1972, the Duchess remarried first on 16 March 1978 Jesús Aguirre y Ortiz de Zárate (1934–2001), a Doctor of Theology and a former Jesuit priest. The wedding caused shock; Aguirre was illegitimate, which carried a stigma among the wealthy and devout in 1970s Spain.[4] Eight years younger than the Duchess, he maintained a good relationship with her children. During their marriage he administered, with his stepson Carlos, the Alba estates.[5] Aguirre died in 2001.

The re-widowed Duchess expressed her wish to marry Alfonso Díez Carabantes in the 2000s, a civil servant who separately had a public relations business, 24 years her junior. It was reported objections came from her children and from King Juan Carlos. The House of Alba in 2008 issued a statement saying that the relationship "was based on a long friendship and there are no plans to marry".[4][6] The duchess decided to proceed and gave her children their inheritance which included majestic palaces in Spain, paintings by old and modern masters (from Fra Angelico, Titian and Goya to Renoir and Marc Chagall), a first-edition copy of Cervantes's Don Quixote, letters written by Christopher Columbus, and substantial land; her wealth was estimated at between €600 million and €3.5 billion.[7] Díez formally renounced any claim to her wealth.[4] They married on 5 October 2011 at the Palacio de las Dueñas in Seville,[8] where the Duchess, whose passions included flamenco, performed a short dance for the spectators.[9]


Statue in Seville

The Duchess died in the Palacio de las Dueñas on 20 November 2014, at the age of 88. She was succeeded by her son Carlos Fitz-James Stuart, 14th Duke of Huéscar, who thus became the 19th Duke of Alba. At the time of her death, her net worth was estimated to be $5 billion.[10]

The Duchess' body was laid in repose at the Town Hall, where thousands of civilians paid their last respects. Pictures of the Duchess with her family were placed at her coffin. The King of Spain telephoned her son to pay his respects and sent two flower crowns to Seville. The Lord Mayor said that the flags of the city would be lowered in mourning. Juan José Asenjo and Curro Romero, and Mariano Rajoy, Spain's prime minister, also formally paid their respects.[11] Her funeral was held at Seville Cathedral by Carlos Amigo Vallejo, where the Royal Family was represented by the Infanta Elena.[12]

Titles, styles, honours and arms[edit]


  • 28 March 1926 - 11 January 1935 : The Most Excellent Doña Maria del Rosario Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart y Silva
  • 11 January 1935 - 28 January 1947 : The Most Excellent The Duchess of Aliaga
  • 28 January 1947 - 18 February 1955 : The Most Excellent The Duchess of Montoro
  • 18 February 1955 - 20 November 2014 : The Most Excellent The Duchess of Alba


As head of the dynasty, Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart was styled by her most senior title of "Duchess of Alba", while having held over 50 other hereditary titles during her lifetime.[7] She was 14 times a Grandee of Spain. According to Guinness World Records, she was the most titled aristocrat in the world.[13]

Coat of arms of Cayetana, 18th Duchess of Alba
  • 17th Marchioness of Carpio, Grandee of Spain
  • 10th Marchioness of San Vicente del Barco, Grandee of Spain -Ceded to her son Don Fernando
  • 16th Marchioness of La Algaba
  • 16th Marchioness of Almenara -Ceded to her son Don Alfonso[16]
  • 18th Marchioness of Barcarrota
  • 10th Marchioness of Castañeda
  • 23rd Marchioness of Coria
  • 14th Marchioness of Eliche
  • 16th Marchioness of Mirallo
  • 20th Marchioness of la Mota
  • 20th Marchioness of Moya
  • 17th Marchioness of Orani -Ceded to her son Don Alfonso[17]
  • 12th Marchioness of Osera
  • 14th Marchioness of San Leonardo
  • 19th Marchioness of Sarria
  • 12th Marchioness of Tarazona
  • 15th Marchioness of Valdunquillo
  • 18th Marchioness of Villanueva del Fresno
  • 17th Marchioness of Villanueva del Río
  • 27th Countess of Aranda, Grandee of Spain -Ceded to her son Don Alfonso[18]
  • 22nd Countess of Lemos, Grandee of Spain
  • 20th Countess of Lerín, Grandee of Spain, Constabless of Navarre
  • 20th Countess of Miranda del Castañar, Grandee of Spain
  • 16th Countess of Monterrey, Grandee of Spain
  • 20th Countess of Osorno, Grandee of Spain
  • 18th Countess of Palma del Río, Grandee of Spain -Ceded to her son Don Alfonso[19]
  • 12th Countess of Salvatierra, Grandee of Spain -Ceded to her son Don Cayetano
  • 22nd Countess of Siruela, Grandee of Spain -Ceded to her son Don Jacobo
  • 19th Countess of Andrade
  • 14th Countess of Ayala
  • 16th Countess of Casarrubios del Monte
  • 16th Countess of Fuentes de Valdepero
  • 11th Countess of Fuentidueña
  • 17th Countess of Galve
  • 18th Countess of Gelves
  • 16th Countess of Guimerá -Ceded to her son Don Alfonso[20]
  • 21st Countess of Modica (Kingdom of Sicily)
  • 24th Countess of Ribadeo -Ceded to her son Don Alfonso[21]
  • 25th Countess of San Esteban de Gormaz
  • 12th Countess of Santa Cruz de la Sierra
  • 20th Countess of Villalba
  • 12th Viscountess of la Calzada
  • 29th Lady of Moguer


National honours
Foreign honours

Honorary appointments[edit]

National honorary appointments
Foreign honorary appointments


  1. ^ Edwards, Arthur. "The International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame Inductees, 2004-2014". Vanity Fair. Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 31 March 2015.
  2. ^ "Death Duke of Sotomayor". Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  3. ^ Constenla, Tereixa (14 August 2011). "The duchess marries for love". El País. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
  4. ^ a b c Stephen Burgen in Barcelona (7 August 2011). "newspaper: Spanish duchess gives away fortune in order to marry civil servant, 8 August 2011". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  5. ^ Algorri, Luis (21 May 2001). "Jesús Aguirre Ortiz de Zárate, Duque de Alba". Personajes Cántabros (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 3 March 2007. Retrieved 29 April 2007. (in Spanish)
  6. ^ "The duchess with everything (except the right to marry)". The Independent. London. 29 September 2008. Archived from the original on 4 December 2008. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
  7. ^ a b Daniel Woolls; Miguel Angel Morenatti (5 October 2011). "Rich Spanish duchess weds for third time at age 85". The Boston Globe. ISSN 0743-1791. Retrieved 9 October 2011.
  8. ^ Galaz, Mábel (5 October 2011). "Cayetana ya es señora de Díez". El País (in Spanish). Retrieved 5 October 2011. (in Spanish)
  9. ^ Ashifa Kassam (20 November 2014). "Spain's eccentric Duchess of Alba dies aged 88". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  10. ^ Staff (22 November 2014). "Spain's Duchess of Alba leaves $5 billion fortune to her children and nothing to husband Alfonso Diez". News Corp Australia. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  11. ^ EL PERIÓDICO / BARCELONA (20 November 2014). "El Rey y Rajoy dan el pésame por la muerte de la duquesa de Alba". El Periódico.
  13. ^ Burgen, Stephen (7 August 2011). "Spanish duchess gives away fortune in order to marry civil servant". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
  14. ^ Boletín Oficial del Estado– website
  15. ^ Boletín Oficial del Estado– website
  16. ^ Boletín Oficial del Estado– website
  17. ^ Boletín Oficial del Estado– website
  18. ^ Boletín Oficial del Estado– website
  19. ^ Boletín Oficial del Estado– website
  20. ^ Boletín Oficial del Estado– website
  21. ^ Boletín Oficial del Estado– website
  22. ^ Decree 1079 of 1 April 1964 – website
  23. ^ Royal Decree 1432 of 14 December 2001 – website
  24. ^ EFE/Rafa Alcalde. "Despedida a la duquesa de Alba en el Ayuntamiento de Sevilla".
  25. ^ Ana Verónica Garcia (20 November 2014). "La duquesa de Alba, una ferviente católica movida por su fe". ABC. Madrid.
  26. ^ Donovan Longo (20 November 2014). "Spain's Duchess of Alba Funeral Photos: 88-Year-Old Eccentric Aristocrat Remembered By Family And Dignitaries". Latin Times.
  27. ^ Decree 753 of 5 April 1962 – website
  28. ^ Decree 889 of 29 March 1974– website
  29. ^ "Unos 200 jornaleros protestan por el título de Hija Predilecta de Andalucía para la duquesa de Alba".
  30. ^ "El Sindicato de Obreros del Campo reclama a la duquesa de Alba que "pida disculpas"". 20 December 2017.
  31. ^ "El equipo de Gobierno recuerda en este día a la Duquesa de Alba, medalla de oro de la ciudad - Radio Bahia Gibraltar". 20 November 2014.
  32. ^ "Grupo Diario Area » Último adiós a la Duquesa de Alba, Medalla de Oro de La Línea".
  33. ^ Nacho Fresno. "Los hijos de la duquesa de Alba, unidos en la Medalla de Oro de Madrid". Revista Semana. Archived from the original on 20 June 2015. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  34. ^ El Imparcial. "La intensa vida de la duquesa de Alba con el mundo por montera". El Imparcial.
  35. ^ "20/11/2014". Archived from the original on 6 February 2015.
  36. ^ "Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart, 18va duquesa de Alba".
  37. ^ Europa Press (20 November 2014). "Llíria (Valencia) muestra sus condolencias por la muerte de la Duquesa de Alba, alcaldesa honorífica de la ciudad".
  38. ^ Elisa Murillo. "Muere la duquesa de Alba". Revista Semana. Archived from the original on 5 February 2015. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  39. ^ ABC (7 June 2014). "La duquesa de Alba no acude a la boda del marqués de Valencina". ABC. Madrid.
  40. ^ "Muere la duquesa de Alba: Una vida a veinticinco fotogramas por segundo". 20 November 2014.
  41. ^ "La duquesa de Alba: su vida y obra de la A a la Z". 20 November 2014.
  42. ^ El Imparcial. "La intensa vida de la duquesa de Alba con el mundo por montera". El Imparcial.
  43. ^ "Sociedad Hispana de América". Turismo Nueva York. 23 February 2010.

External links[edit]

Spanish nobility
Preceded by Duchess of Aliaga
11 January 1935 – 23 April 1954
Succeeded by
Marchioness of San Vicente del Barco
11 January 1935 – 26 January 1994
Succeeded by
Preceded by Duchess of Montoro
28 January 1947 – 24 November 1994
Succeeded by
Duchess of Alba, et cetera
18 February 1955 – 20 November 2014
Succeeded by
Countess of Siruela
18 February 1955 – 9 June 1982
Succeeded by
Preceded by Duchess of Híjar
31 December 1957 – 2 April 2013
Succeeded by
Countess of Salvatierra
31 December 1957 – 26 January 1994
Succeeded by
Italian nobility
Preceded by Count of Modica
18 February 1955 – 20 November 2014
Succeeded by