Spain’s Eccentric Duchess Dies at 88

Maria del Rosario Cayetana Fritz-James Stuart, Spain’’s richest duchess today passed away at her Duenas Palace home in the southern city of Seville, Spain.

According to a family spokesman, the Duchess of Alba aged 88 had been moved to her home on Tuesday night from an hospital where she was being treated for pneumonia.

Known for her frizzy hair and flamboyant dress sense, the Duchess was one of Spain’s most-loved personalities whose antics were usually featured in the nation’s gossip magazines and television chat shows until death.

Maria del Rosario was famous for hosting Audrey Hepburn, late British actress and humanitarian and Jackie Kennedy, wife of former United States President on their visits to Spain.

The socialite was the head of one of Spain’s oldest noble families. She was one of the nation’s richest women ever as she owned swathes of real estate, palaces and exotic houses. She also owned precious treasures including paintings by Great Masters of art like Goya and Velazquez.

Her foremost title was Duchess of Alba de Tormes but due to a series of complicated marriages by her ancestors she had over 40 others. The duchess had more titles than any other aristocrat on earth. This made her the most officially recognised noble in the world with the highest number of titles in Guinness World Records. She was five times a duchess, 18 times a marchioness, 18 times a countess, 14 times a Spanish grandee and once a viscountess.

Maria del Rosario is survived by Alfonso Diez, her husband of three years who is 24 years her junior. She bequeathed her wealth, estimated between €600 million ($753m) and €3.5 billion, to her six children.

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