When the Duchess of Alba, one of Spain’s wealthiest women, announced last month that she would be marrying her civil servant boyfriend of three years, Alfonso Diez, a snort of cynical laughter erupted from many quarters.
Let’s face it, why would a 61 year-old presentable male be interested in an 85 year-old pensioner with a rictus smile and taut facial skin – the handiwork of possibly the most short-sighted or sadistic plastic surgeon on the planet- when he could find much younger women to woo? That’s probably what the Duchess’s six children were thinking when they apparently took umbrage at the whole idea.
Of course the elephant in the room was the Duchess’s immense wealth. Surely Alfonzo Diez wasn’t remotely interested in the massive fortune, estimated to be worth between £528m and £3.5 bn? No, that would be far too cynical. After all, Diez and the Duchess met more than thirty years ago and were romantically reunited outside a cinema three years ago. It had to be love.
So to placate her many detractors, the good Duchess, rather like a put upon Lear, has divided the ancient spoils of the aristocratic House of Alba- the palaces, castles, señorial mansions and land- among her children, to be inherited upon her death. All the same, she will still control her finances until that time. Everyone seems happy with the compromise and the wedding is due to go ahead in October at the Duenas Palace in Seville which is owned, naturally, by the Duchess.
It is easy to be judgmental in these scenarios. The Duchess of Alba is after all a colourful character on the social circuit who frequently adorns the pages of Hola! in Spain and countless glossy titles across Europe and the States, and yet for all that she’s a shrewd, intelligent and rational woman. In carving up her kingdom she has laid her soul bare and shown that for her at least, this, her third marriage, is for real.
I hope for the Duchess of Alba’s sake that her new beau really does love her for herself and not for her priceless baubles. Who knows, but this fairytale might just have a happy ending.
First appeared in Expat Telegraph
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