SEVILLE, Spain — Shrugging off her children's qualms and opposition from Spain's royal family, a wealthy, 85-year-old Spanish duchess considered the world's most title-laden noble married a civil servant 25 years her junior on Wednesday, and celebrated by kicking off her shoes and dancing a bit of flamenco.
Waving fans against the hot Andalusian sun, a crowd of several hundred clapped and roared its approval as the Duchess of Alba waved and dance on a red carpet after her wedding to Alfonso Diez at Palacio de las Duenas, her 15th-century residence in the cobblestoned old quarter of Seville.
Known for her cloud of frizzy white hair, squeaky voice and wildly colorful clothes, the duchess is among Spain's most famous people and a mainstay of the nation's gossip magazines. Only a few dozen family members and close friends were invited to the ceremony.
The twice-widowed duchess, a fan of bull-fighting and flamenco, wore a pale pink knee-length dress with a moss-green sash by Spanish designers Victorio and Lucchino. After the ceremony she ventured outside the palace to throw her bouquet of flowers into the crowd and dance in front of a forest of TV cameras.
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Her full name — take a deep breath — is Maria del Rosario Cayetana Alfonsa Victoria Eugenia Francisca Fitz-James Stuart y de Silva. She goes by simply Cayetana, and is a distant relative of Queen Elizabeth and Winston Churchill.
She and Diez, a social security administration employee, are old acquaintances through her second husband, who was a former priest, and Diez's brother. They bumped into each other about three years ago outside a movie theater in Madrid and eventually started dating.
The duchess's six children had been openly opposed to the marriage with 61-year-old Alfonso Diez, with whom she started to step out in 2008, but have softened to the idea following the matriach's move to divide her fortune between them in July.
The wedding plans even met with disapproval from Spain's royal family, although King Juan Carlos has since given his blessing to the couple, the duchess said in a recent interview with news agency EFE.
The duchess's fortune includes ancient palaces throughout Spain, paintings by Spanish masters Velazquez and Goya, and huge stretches of land. Estimates of he wealth range from $800 million to $4.7 billion.
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The third woman to hold the title of Duchess of Alba in her own right, the duchess married her first husband in 1947. They were married for 25 years until he died of leukemia.
She walked up the aisle with her second husband, a former Jesuit priest, in 1978. He died after 23 years of marriage. "I am a practicing Roman Catholic; that's why I'm marrying for a third time. Unfortunately my two previous husbands died," she has said.
Alfonso Diez will leave his civil service job following the wedding to live in a 16th century palace in Seville alongside his new wife.
Two of the children did not attend the wedding. The duchess's only daughter, Eugenia, was reported to hospitalized in Madrid with chicken pox, while one of her sons, named Jacobo and reportedly unhappy with his slice of the family fortune, was said to be traveling outside Spain.