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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Wealthy duchess gives fortune away to marry

Maria del Rosario Cayetana Alfonsa Victoria Eugenia Francisca Fitz-James Stuart y de Silva (yes, that's one name) is one of the wealthiest women in all of Spain. She is worth somewhere between $850 million and $5 billion--but not for long. The Duchess of Alba, 85, is giving it all away so she can marry the man she loves.

This sounds like a plot to the latest Nicholas Sparks novel, but we assure you, this is nonfiction to the core. So, why is she giving her vast fortune away? The duchess's six children were dubious about their mother's plans to marry Alfonso Diez, a civil servant who is 24 years younger.

To help assuage their fears that the love may not be genuine, the duchess is going to give her fortune to her children. According to an article from the BBC, the duchess's six children had been against the wedding. Earlier this year, the duchess remarked, "Alfonso doesn't want anything. All he wants is me."

Click image to see more photos. (Photo by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)

Click image to see more photos. (Photo by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)

Not surprisingly, news of the impending wedding sparked a flurry of web searches. Online lookups for "duchess marries" and "spain duchess fortune" were both incredibly popular, as computer users have sought the scoop on the unlikely love story.

The duchess's children were all from her first marriage to Pedro Luis Martinez de Irujo y Artazcoz, son of the Duke of Sotomayor. He died in 1972. The duchess remarried in 1978 to a onetime Jesuit priest named Jesus Aguirre y Ortiz de Zarate. He passed away in 2001. The duchess has been friends with Diez for several years. In fact, there were rumors of a wedding in 2008, but nothing occurred after the children "vetoed" the idea of marriage.

No word on whether the duchess's children and grandchildren intend to be on hand for the ceremony. She likes to point out that each of her kids is divorced, even though she has never split up with any of her husbands. According to the UK Guardian, the duchess has given her children and eight grandchildren "a palace each." That ought to keep them quiet.

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