Elderly duchess defies furious family to marry her toyboy, 61

Despite opposition from her children and grandchildren to her marrying a civil servant 24 years her junior, the 85-year-old Duchess of Alba – who is said to hold more titles than any European noble – exchanged vows yesterday at her 15th-century Palacio de las Dueñas in Seville, in southern Spain. Onlookers and journalists camped outside the palace walls all morning to catch a glimpse of Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart y Silva and her beau, Alfonso Diez. Souvenir wedding pins, wristbands and T-shirts circulated throughout the Andalusian capital as people turned the adjacent streets into a party.

Following the nuptials, the couple emerged down a red carpet flanked by flashing cameras, microphones and waving fans. The Duchess tossed her bouquet into the crowd, waved to the revellers, and removed her shoes to perform a quick sevillana dance.

The wedding was attended by around 40 friends and family, a small affair compared to the Duchess's first marriage in 1947 which was hailed as the world's most expensive wedding. The gossip website Divinity reported that the menu included both Spanish and British dishes: gazpacho, rice with spicy lobster (her favourite meal), beef Wellington and rice pudding.

With her estate estimated to be worth between £500m and £3bn, the Duchess's heirs were not keen on her twilight relationship with Mr Diez, 61, who works in Spain's social security office.

Mr Diez renounced any claim to the house of Alba's fortune, and in August the Duchess revealed her inheritance plans, which not only made clear to each person what they would receive on her death, but also emphasized that her love life was off-limits to family consultation.

"I have a young personality and I don't pay attention to numbers," the Duchess told Spanish radio earlier this year. "Alfonso has known me for 30 years, and he fell in love with me at first sight. But I married [someone else] and he had other relationships. Until one day three years ago, when we spontaneously fell into each others' arms... But my children are making it hard on me. [Alfonso] doesn't want anything except me."

The Duchess's family owns countless palaces, castles, properties and land throughout Spain. And then there is the artwork.

The Liria Palace in Madrid, where the Duchess was born, holds 50,000 works of art and an 18,000-volume library – including journals by Christopher Columbus and a first-edition Don Quixote. The massive collection also contains works by Velazquez, Goya, Rembrandt and Picasso.

Born in 1926, the Duchess inherited the title when her father died in 1953. She is the 18th duchess of Alba, a line descending from an illegitimate child of King James II of England. The King's mistress, an ancestor of Winston Churchill, gave birth to four children, given the surname Fitz-James Stuart, or the son of James Stuart. A previous duchess of Alba became famous for reclining seductively in the nude while Goya painted her.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk