Topless photo scandal on eve of Spanish duchess’s wedding
The Spain’s fabulously wealthy 85-year-old Duchess of Alba faced a topless photo scandal Tuesday on the eve of her wedding to a civil servant 25 years her junior.
A 30-year-old photograph of the duchess as she sunbathed topless in Ibiza was splashed on the cover of the racy Spanish magazine Interviu, reportedly prompting a legal threat.
“We are considering suing for interfering with her rights to privacy,” her friend and lawyer Javier Saavedra was quoted as telling show business news site Vanitatis on Tuesday.
The twice-widowed aristocrat, renowned for her frizzy hair and colourful dress sense, will marry 60-year-old Alfonso Diez on Wednesday in the chapel of her 15th century Palacio de las Duenas in Seville.
Spain’s media, particularly the lively gossip shows and press, are devouring every detail of the nuptials and the duchess’ tussle with six children who were doubtful about the match.
The noble has said she had to work hard to overcome her offspring’s objections.
She showered her five sons and one daughter several months ago with much of her estate — palaces, mansions and treasures including masterpieces by artists from Goya to Velazquez, Murillo, Rembrandt and Rubens.
But she kept control over the assets, ranging from palaces to lavish estates reputedly worth between 600 million and 3.5 billion euros ($850 million and $5.0 billion), until her death.
Guests at the Seville palace ceremony will be restricted mostly to family — reportedly 30-60 people.
It is a dramatic change from Maria del Rosario Cayetana Fitz-James-Stuart’s first marriage in October 1947 described by the New York Times as “Spain’s most elaborate social event since the end of the monarchy”.
Two designers of the duchess’ wedding dress, which remains a secret, were seen leaving the palace where a crowd of journalists waited for details. “Everything is fine, the duchess is happy. She is the only one to have seen it,” one of them confided.
Through the grille of the entrance gate, beyond two palm trees, could be seen a courtyard with flowers.
In a Seville shop, De Triana, owner Juan Carlos Ramos Picchi said souvenirs including T-shirts, badges, masks, wigs and dolls of the duchess and her fiancee were selling fast.
“Clients include people who admire the duchess and just as many youngsters who take it as a joke,” he said.
As a strict Roman Catholic, the duchess said in an interview on the eve of the wedding that she had no choice but to marry.
“I am anti divorce, anti abortion, anti all those atrocities,” she said in an interview with the Spanish news agency EFE.
“I am a Catholic and I practice it. That is why I am marrying for a third time,” said the duchess.
“Unfortunately my previous two husbands died.”
The duchess, who has more titles than any other noble on Earth according to Guinness World Records, said there had been opposition to the marriage from her children and friends “until they realized the calibre of the man he was, he is”.
According to the Spanish press, she has already introduced her betrothed to King Juan Carlos, who gave his blessing.
Gossip web site Divinity said she would offer a selection of Spanish and British-inspired dishes for the wedding including Gazpacho soup, rice with spicy lobster, beef Wellington and rice pudding.
According to the daily El Mundo, friends of the couple joined a pre-wedding lunch in the Seville palace on Tuesday so as to include all those who were unable to fit into the ceremony itself.
Duchess of Alba wedding: 10 must-know facts
Top ten facts about the upcoming marriage between the Duchess of Alba, Spain’s richest and most titled woman, and commoner Alfonso Diez Carabantes.
1. The 18th Duchess of Alba holds the world record for the most aristocratic titles, possessing at least 44 noble titles and 150 hereditary ones.
2. Her full name is Maria del Rosario Cayetana Alfonsa Victoria Eugenia Francisca Fitz-James Stuart y de Silva and she is a duchess seven times over.
3. She was born in 1926. Her husband-to-be was born in 1949.
4. The Duchess first married in 1947, aged 21, to aristocratic naval officer Luis Martinez de Irujo y Artazcoz. She had six children with him but he died in 1972.
5. In 1978 she scandalised the nation by marrying defrocked Jesuit priest Jesus Aguirre y Ortiz de Zarate, her former confessor. Aguirre administered the Alba estate until his death in 2001.
6. 60-year-old Alfonso Diez Carabantes has known the Duchess for nearly thirty years. His brother was a friend of her second husband.
7. The union between the Duchess and Diez has met with opposition from her family and the royal family of Spain due to his status as a commoner.
8. Diez, 24 years her junior, works as a civil servant in the department of security.
9. The Duchess has divided her fortune – estimated to be between €600m (£525m) and €3.5 billion – between her children and grandchildren and asked Diez to sign a legal document renouncing any claim to her wealth.
10. The Duchess was once asked to pose nude for Picasso, and says she now regrets having declined.