Spanish duchess to wed after lavishing children with wealth

23rd August 2011, Comments 0 comments

One of Spain's richest women, the 85-year-old Duchess of Alba, said Tuesday she will marry a civil servant 24 years her junior in early October at a private family ceremony.

The announcement comes after the twice-widowed aristocrat gave away her vast inheritance last month to her five sons and daughter, reportedly to placate their objections to her planned union with Alfonso Diez.

"There will be no press, only a photographer who will distribute pictures to all media," the duchess said in a statement which was published in full by the online edition of Spain's ¡Hola! celebrity gossip magazine.

The duchess, renowned in Spain for her frizzy hair and colourful dress sense, said only her children, their current and past spouses and her doctor would attend the service.

"None of my friends will attend the marriage due to a lack of space", she added in the statement.

"With this statement I would appreciate it if the media would end all their false speculations and respect my peace."

The duchess, Maria del Rosario Cayetana Fitz-James-Stuart, owns swathes of real estate, palaces, mansions and treasures including paintings by masters from Goya to Velazquez, Murillo, Rembrandt and Rubens.

Earlier this month daily El Pais reported she had legally bequeathed the fortune -- estimated in the Spanish press at between 600 million and 3.5 billion euros ($850 million and $5.0 billion) -- in July but maintains control over it until her death.

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

"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."

According to the Guinness World Records, the duchess has more titles than any noble on earth.

© 2011 AFP

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