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Eccentric Duchess More 'Noble' Than Elizabeth Dead at 88

World's most titled person loved bull-fighting, flamenco dancing
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2014 8:36 AM CST

(Newser) – Spain's Duchess of Alba, the world's most titled person, died today at her 14th century palace in Seville after battling pneumonia. Officially Maria del Rosario Cayetana Alfonsa Victoria Eugenia Francisca Fitz-James Stuart y Silva, the eccentric duchess who loved bull-fighting, flamenco dancing, and fishnet tights, was as Reuters puts it, "14 times a Spanish grandee, five times a duchess, once a countess-duchess, 18 times a marchioness, 18 times a countess and once a viscountess." Descended from King James II and thus more "noble" than Queen Elizabeth, the Telegraph reports, she was also the head of the House of Alba, one of Spain's oldest aristocratic families, and had a fortune somewhere between $750 million and $4.3 billion.

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Her title allowed her to ride a horse into Seville Cathedral and meant she didn't have to kneel before the pope. As her father was Spain's ambassador to Britain, she played with Princess Margaret and dined with Winston Churchill as a child. As an adult, her homes hosted Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Kennedy, and a Dior fashion show. However, "we've never had a lot of cash," she once wrote. "Many people confuse having cash with having assets." Those assets included palaces and castles in Madrid, Marbella, and Ibiza, Columbus' first map of the Americas, plus priceless works of art. Her six children received their share of the fortune when the duchess, who was widowed twice, married a commoner 24 years her junior in 2011. (Read more Duchess of Alba stories.)

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