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Duchess of Alba, Spain's richest woman, dies aged 88

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Duchess of Alba, Spain's richest woman, dies aged 88


A flamboyant aristocrat and Spain’s richest woman, the Duchess of Alba has died aged 88.

Maria del Rosario Cayetena Fitz-James had reportedly more titles than any other person on the planet.

A one-time society beauty, in later life with her shock of frizzy hair – sometimes dyed a whimsical red at other times a snowy white – she fascinated and appalled in almost equal measure.

She was thrice married. Six years after the death of her first husband she wed a defrocked Jesuit priest.

But it was the union with her third husband which provoked a bigger scandal. Three years ago she wed a civil servant 25 years her junior.

She mixed with world figures and was famous for hosting Jackie Kennedy on her visits to Spain. Her antics filled the gossip columns and gripped viewers of TV chat shows even during the final months of her life.

She rubbed shoulders with royalty and was often described as the “rebel noble”.

Art was a passion and she amassed a private collection said to rival any in Europe.

An abiding image for many Spaniards is when the Duchess entertained onlookers in Seville at her third wedding. She kicked off her shoes, hiked up her dress and performed an impromptu flamenco dance outside her palace.

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