The Duchess of Alba Maria del Rosario Cayetana Alfonsa Victoria Eugenia Francisca Fitz-James Stuart y de Silva passed away in late November 2014 at the age of 88. An extraordinarily wealthy aristocrat who was beloved by Spaniards for her rebellious spirit, La Duquesa was famous internationally for being the noble with the most titles in the world!
“There are so many titles — at least 57 of them, you see — so I only use Alba,” the duchess remarked to the New York Times in 1966, when former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy was preparing to pay her a visit. – from Washington Post obituary
La Duquesa made international headlines in 2011 when in her mid-eighties she married her third husband Alfonso Díez, a civil servant who was more than twenty years younger.
Her kids were pissed—they basically feared her new hubs could be a “gold digger”—so she decided to divide up her estate early to shut them up and keep them out of her business. She also called them out for their own marital track records (more than one had been divorced) and pointed out that she was widowed not once, but twice, so basically they could all STFU because she was going to do whatever she damn well pleased. (*drops microphone to the floor and walks away*)
Oh yeah, and then she started flamenco dancing for the public right after the ceremony. Fast forward to 1:19 for the best stuff.
After seeing that, I was curious about her, and that led me to La Duquesa, a two-part miniseries which Telecinco produced in the mid-2000s. It has been reported that the Duchess of Alba supported the biopic project, and not only allowed the production to shoot in her many palaces, but also exerted influence to get the creators access to other prime locations. Links to the streaming videos follow since I am unable to embed them.
The first half of the series received the blessing of the Duchess of Alba. It details her upbringing, her marriage to her first husband, the Duke of Sotomayor Luis Martínez de Irujo, and their life raising six kids. There are no subtitles or captions.
The second installment covers her relationship and artistic projects with ex-priest Jesús Aguirre who became her second husband. There is a scene in which Aguirre is portrayed disrobing in front of her son Cayetano. Let’s just say La Duquesa was not amused by La Duquesa II.
The Duchess of Alba publicly denounced Part Two as a fiction that belittled her second husband Aguirre, who died in 2001 and therefore couldn’t defend himself. Lots of rumors abound about Aguirre, but from what I have read it basically boils down to having homosexual tendencies and perhaps having achieved unearned cultural appointments and honors solely because of his marriage to the duchess. Feel free to due further exploration if you like. Not my business.
In the wake of Doña Cayetana’s death in November, TVE aired this documentary special La Duquesa de Alba, una vida vivida. Unlike the Telecinco miniseries, this video has the option for Spanish captions and there is a transcript available on the TVE page as well.
And now some links I’ve enjoyed and hope you will too.
Spain’s leading national newspaper El País has a special coverage section devoted the Duchess of Alba’s life and death. (Spanish)
Spain’s rebel noble, the Duchess of Alba, dies aged 88 (English)
And Telecinco, when can we expect Part 3? 🙂