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Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart, 18th Duchess of Alba facts for kids

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Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart
Duchess of Alba (more...)
18th Duchess of Alba.JPG
Cayetana Duchess of Alba in 2005
Full name
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, Falcó y Gurtubay
Born (1926-03-28)28 March 1926
Liria Palace, Madrid, Spain
Baptised 18 April 1926
Royal Chapel, Royal Palace of Madrid
Died 20 November 2014(2014-11-20) (aged 88)
Palace of the Dukes of Alba, Seville, Spain
Noble family Alba branch of Fitz-James Stuart
Luis Martínez de Irujo y Artázcoz
(m. 1947; died 1972)

(m. 1978; died 2001)

Alfonso Díez Carabantes
(m. 2011)
Father Jacobo Fitz-James Stuart, 17th Duke of Alba
Mother María del Rosario de Silva, 9th Marchioness of San Vicente del Barco
Signature Cayetana of Alba Signature.svg

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 distinction now held by the 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 eight-greats granddaughter of James II. Her godmother was Queen Victoria Eugenie, the wife of 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, Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III of Monaco. 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 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. 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." 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. 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. 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". 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. Díez formally renounced any claim to her wealth. They married on 5 October 2011 at the Palacio de las Dueñas in Seville. The Duchess, whose passions included flamenco, performed a quick few steps of the dance in front of the crowds that had gathered outside the palace on the day of the wedding.


Monumento a la Duquesa de Alba, Sevilla 2
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.

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. Her funeral was held at Seville Cathedral by Carlos Amigo Vallejo, where the Royal Family was represented by the Infanta Elena.

Titles, styles, honours and arms

As head of the dynasty, Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart was styled by her most senior title of "Duchess of Alba", whilst holding over 40 other hereditary titles. According to Guinness World Records, she was the most titled aristocrat in the world.


  • 18th Duchess of Alba, Grandee of Spain
  • 15th Duchess of Aliaga, Grandee of Spain -Ceded to her son Don Alfonso
  • 4th Duchess of Arjona, Grandee of Spain -Ceded to her son Don Cayetano
  • 11th Duchess of Berwick, Grandee of Spain
  • 17th Duchess of Híjar, Grandee of Spain -Ceded to her son Don Alfonso
  • 11th Duchess of Liria and Jérica, Grandee of Spain
  • 11th Duchess of Montoro, Grandee of Spain -Ceded to her daughter Doña Eugenia
  • 12th Countess-Duchess of Olivares, Grandee of Spain
Coat of Arms of the 18th Duchess of Alba (Order of Isabella the Catholic)
Coat of arms of Cayetana, 18th Duchess of Alba
  • 17th Marchioness of the 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 21st Countess of Modica (Kingdom of Sicily)
  • 24th Countess of Ribadeo -Ceded to her son Don Alfonso
  • 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
  • Greece Greek royal family: Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Beneficence
  • Kingdom of the Two Sicilies House of Bourbon-Two Sicilies Dame Grand Cross of Justice of the Calabrian Two Sicilian Order of Saint George
  •  Japan: Wisteria Dame of the Order of the Precious Crown, 4th Class

Honorary appointments

National honorary appointments
Foreign honorary appointments

See also

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