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Image: Duchess of Alba Marries Alfonso Diez
Julio Munoz  /  EPA
The 85-year-old Duchess of Alba dances flamenco as her husband, Alfonso Diez Carabantes (left), claps his hands after the couple got married at Palacio de las Duenas's chapel in Seville, Spain, on Oct. 5.
TODAY news services
updated 10/5/2011 11:08:49 AM ET 2011-10-05T15:08:49

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.

Video: Duchess gives away her billions for love (on this page)

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.

Story: Duchess, 85, gives up fortune to wed civil servant

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.

Slideshow: Duchess Kate’s royal style

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.

Video: Duchess gives away her billions for love

  1. Closed captioning of: Duchess gives away her billions for love

    >>> would you give up everything to marry the person you love? pun of spain 's richest women has signed away her enormous wealth to do just that. and it's not sitting well with her royal family . nbc's michelle kosinski is in spain with the story. michelle, good morning.

    >> hi, lester. well, this were a wednesdding involves a duchess, commoner groom 24 years her junior, and her angry, disapproving family. the duchess offal ba is so high ranking she has ancient prif lenls like not having to kneel before the pope and if she feels like it she can ride a horse into the cathedral. now she's giving her fortune away for love. she has been a center of attention in spain here with jackie kennedy , for all of her 85 years. when the ever flamboyant duchess of alba , married her first husband, the son of the duke, her wedding attracted more press excitement than queen elizabeth . and this duchess has not disappointed since. known for her wild outfits, outspokenness, and what appears to be a touch of classic surgery, now she's insisting on marrying her love, 61-year-old alfonso diez, a humble government worker. it's just that her family, including her six kids, has said, absolutely not.

    >> she's going to -- it's going to cause some trouble. but, at the same time, people like it.

    >> reporter: even the king of spain himself reportedly called the twice widowed duchess advising her against remarriage. but now it seems she's found a way to prove that it's all more amore, by giving away her fortune, thought to be worth more than 1 and $5 billion. yes, the palaces, a dozen castles, the masters, thousands of acre of spanish countryside, christopher columbus ' first map of america, all, according to the press, will go to her children and grandchildren so she will be free to marry without all that pesky rich people baggage. although it's said that her groom to be has found a way to claim to it. she has said all six of her children are divorced so what do they care if she marries the man she wants.

    >> it doesn't matter how old you are, as long as you're in love.

    >> reporter: the duchess has had more titles than any other royal in the world, likes things her way.

    >> you don't know how long she's got left. have fun while you can.

    >> reporter: waiting to finally take on a new title, just wife of a regular guy she insists doesn't want anything but her. royal watchers say the wedding could happen as early as the fall. when she got married the first time it was called the most expensive wedding in the world. maybe this one will just be norm norm normal, backyard, barbecue. but we doubt it.

    >> we were thinking of having you say her name one more time but it's only a four-hour show. no time.

    >>> just ahead, you know who

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