Duchess of Alba “was noble by birth and very noble of heart”

Funeral service at Seville Cathedral draws 3,000 mourners, including royals and politicians

The funeral ceremony for the Duchess of Alba in Seville Cathedral.
The funeral ceremony for the Duchess of Alba in Seville Cathedral.Laura Leon / AP

Royals and politicians came together in Seville on Friday for the funeral of Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart y Silva, Duchess of Alba, the world’s most-titled aristocrat.

The service took place inside a packed Seville Cathedral, where 14 of the duchess’s relatives carried in the coffin at 12.15pm in the presence of Elena de Borbón, sister of Spain’s King Felipe VI; Senate speaker Pío García Escudero; and Defense Minister Pedro Morenés.

The day before, thousands had stood in line outside Seville City Hall, where the body lay in state, to pay their last respects to the Spanish noble.

The duchess died at the age of 88 inside her Seville residence, Las Dueñas Palace, after her family had her transferred from hospital on Wednesday night.

Monsignor Carlos Amigo Vallejo, who was archbishop of Seville between 1982 and 2009 and a personal friend of the duchess, officiated the mass. Amigo Vallejo described her as “a noble by birth and noble, very noble of heart.”

Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart captured by Richard Avedon for the cover of ‘Harper’s Bazaar’ in 1959.
Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart captured by Richard Avedon for the cover of ‘Harper’s Bazaar’ in 1959.

“She died at an advanced age, but venerable old age is not measured in years but by the beauty and kindness that fills one’s life [...] we are not eternal,” he said.

Sitting in the front row were family members and Seville dignitaries, including city Mayor Juan Ignacio Zoido.

Cathedral sources said around 3,000 people attended the ceremony. A dozen camera operators and 30 journalists followed the service, which lasted one hour and 15 minutes.

The Duchess of Alba, 14 times a Grandee of Spain, was due to be cremated at San Fernando cemetery. Some of her ashes will be placed inside the family pantheon at the Monastery of the Immaculate Conception in Loeches (Madrid), and another portion will go to the Church of Christ of the Gypsies in Seville, in accordance with her wishes.

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