Spanish duchess lavishes children with wealth

11th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

One of Spain's richest women, the Duchess of Alba, said Thursday her children are content after she showered them with her extraordinary wealth, reportedly so she can marry for love.

It was the first time the 85-year-old duchess had commented on reports that she split the lavish riches between her six children to overcome their objections to her marrying a civil servant 24 years her junior.

Asked by Spanish public television TVE if the children were happy with the decision, she replied: "Of course, I am very fair. And since it is my business I don't want to talk about it."

Speaking as she relaxed in the holiday island resort of Ibiza, Maria del Rosario Cayetana Fitz-James-Stuart criticised the leaking of her bequest to the press.

"I don't like it, I don't know who did it," said the aristocrat, whose wealth is estimated in the Spanish press at between 600 million and 3.5 billion euros ($850 million and $5.0 billion).

The duchess, who is renowned in Spain for her frizzy hair, smiling disposition and colourful dress sense, was wearing a pink T-shirt emblazoned with the words: "Love, Hope, Faith."

Spain's media are buzzing with gossip about her adult children's objections to the twice-widowed duchess's desire to marry Alfonso Diez, who works for the social security department and has a public relations firm.

"It is one thing for her to do her things but another to have them aired," Diez, who was in Madrid, complained to TVE.

The duchess owns swathes of real estate, palaces, great houses and treasures including paintings by masters from Goya to Velazquez, Murillo, Zurbaran, Rembrandt and Rubens.

According to a weekend report by the daily El Pais, she legally bequeathed the fortune but maintains control over it until her death.

Among the riches distributed to her five sons and daughter are the Liria Palace in Madrid dripping with masterpiece paintings, country estates, mansions and the Monterrey Palace and El Tejado castle in Salamanca.

"I am Catholic and I want to marry but I don't know if I will because my children are creating difficulties. Hopefully things will work out, I think so," the duchess told radio station Cope in February.

"Alfonso does not want anything, he has renounced everything, he loves only me."

© 2011 AFP

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