Duchess with most titles in world dies in Spain at 88

November 20, 2014 10:46 am


Spain's Duchess of Alba, Maria del Rosario Cayetana Fitz-James-Stuart/AFP
Spain’s Duchess of Alba, Maria del Rosario Cayetana Fitz-James-Stuart/AFP
Spain, Nov 20 – Spain’s eccentric Duchess of Alba, one of the nation’s richest women who has more titles than any other aristocrat on earth, died on Thursday at the age of 88, a spokesman for her family said.

Maria del Rosario Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart passed away at her Duenas Palace in the southern city of Seville on Thursday morning, a family spokesman told AFP.

She had been moved to her home on Tuesday night after being hospitalised with pneumonia.

Known for her frizzy hair and colourful dress sense, the duchess owned swathes of real estate, palaces, great houses and treasures including paintings by Great Masters from Goya to Velazquez.

Her principle title was Duchess of Alba de Tormes but she had more than 40 others due to a complex series of marriages by her ancestors, which made her the noble with the most officially recognised titles in the world, according to Guinness World Records.

She was born at the Liria Palace in Madrid on March 28, 1926.

A common legend about the duchess holds that the King of Spain or Britain’s Queen Elizabeth would have to curtsy to her because of all her titles.

But when Queen Elizabeth visited Madrid in 1988 the duchess — who was known for not mincing her words — dismissed the claim as a “fiction” and bowed before the British monarch.

Cayetana, as she is affectionately known in Spain, then chatted with Queen Elizabeth about their childhood in London. The duchess’s father was Spain’s ambassador to Britain and she would visit Elizabeth, who was then a princess, at Buckingham Palace, according to Spanish newspaper El Pais.

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