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Wedding of 85 year-old duchess captivates Spain

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Summary of story from Reuters, October 6 2011

Spain has been captivated by the recent wedding of one of Europe’s wealthiest aristocrats, the 85-year-old Duchess of Alba.

She married 61-year-old Alfonso Diez, a civil servant 24 years her junior in a Seville palace last Wednesday, despite opposition from her children and Spain’s royal family.

Even with the heat of the Andalusian sun, hoards of onlookers gathered outside the palace for a glimpse of the flamboyant duchess, who is popular fodder for the Spanish gossip magazines.

The build up to the wedding dominated Spanish media. The balcony with the best view of the palace entrance was rented to a television company for 8,000 euros, El Mundo newspaper reported.

The duchess, full name Maria del Rosario Cayetana Alfonsa Victoria Eugenia Francisca Fitz-James Stuart y Silva, wore a salmon-coloured dress with a moss-green sash by Andalusian designers Victorio & Lucchino.

The twice-widowed aristocrat, notorious for her love of flamenco dancing and bull-fighting, greeted well-wishers after the ceremony.

She threw her bouquet of flowers into the crowd and danced flamenco in front of the scores of TV cameras there to capture the event.

The duchess’s six children had been publicly opposed to the marriage, but have come around to the idea following a promise in July to split her fortune between them.

Her assets include historic palaces throughout Spain, works of art by Spanish masters Velazquez and Goya, and expanses of land. Her wealth is estimated at between 600 million and 3.5 billion euros.

The wedding plans even met with disapproval from Spain’s royal family although King Juan Carlos has since offered his blessing to the couple, the duchess said in a recent interview with news agency EFE.

“I have stood alone with this plan, and everyone was against it until they realized the high calibre he is,” the duchess said of Diez.

Diez will give up his civil service job following the wedding and move into a 16th century palace in Seville to live with his new wife.

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