Love, not money, triumphs for billionaire duchess, 85

    Alfonso Diez pecks the cheek of his new wife, the Duchess of Alba. Photo: AFP

Alfonso Diez pecks the cheek of his new wife, the Duchess of Alba. Photo: AFP

The 85-year-old Duchess of Alba, the world’s most title-laden noble, has given up most of her fortune to wed a commoner 25 years her junior.

The Spanish bride, whose wealth is estimated to be between $830 million and $4.8 billion, yesterday wed Alfonso Diez de la Duenas at her 15th century palace in Seville.

The happy couple emerged from the ceremony, held in the palace’s private chapel, and threw her wedding bouquet into the crowd of hundreds of well wishers awaiting a glimpse of the newlyweds.

Donning a coral-coloured couture gown with a moss-green sash, the sprightly senorita celebrated her nuptials by hiking off her dress, throwing off her shoes and dancing her country’s national dance, the flamenco.

The twice-widowed 18th Duchess of Alba has six children, none of whom, reportedly, were happy with her decision to wed a man they saw as, potentially, a gold digger. In order to allay fears for their inheritances, the Duchess has spent the months prior to the wedding giving them and her grandchildren signifcant portions of her vast estate, which includes castles and paintings by the likes of Goya and Rembrandt.

“I have been alone in this project, and got nothing but negative opinions until they realised what kind of man he is,” the flamboyant Duchess told the Spanish news agency Efe shortly before the nuptials

The comparitively low-key nuptials were a far cry from her first wedding in October 1947, which, at the time were said to be the most expensive ever. The then 21-year-old bride’s wedding was celebrated by about 1000 guests and she walked down the aisle covered in about $US1.5 million worth of jewellery, even more of a fortune then than it is now.

According to the Guiness Book of World Records, the Duchess of Alba has more aristocratic titles than any one else, 46 at last count. Among them are titles of marquesa (23 times) and countess (19 times). Her real name is almost equally lengthy: Doña María del Rosario Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart y Silva. She prefers simply to be called Cayetana.

In marrying Cayetana, her new husband picks up a title of his own, his first, the Duke of Alba. In marrying him, the Duchess, too, gets a new title; Mrs Diez de la Duenas.

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