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SPANISH NOBILITY

Supreme Court prevents illegitimate daughter from becoming countess

Judges deny young woman the right to inherit her father the count of Ayala’s title

Raquel Muguiro standing with her horse in Badajoz in 2014.
Raquel Muguiro standing with her horse in Badajoz in 2014.Jorge Armestar

Nobility rights, that mixture of tradition and genealogy, continue to prove to be outside the constitutional principle of equality.

The Spanish Supreme Court has ruled that the only biological daughter of Pedro Ignacio Muguiro and Morales-Arce, Count of the House of Ayala, will not inherit her father’s title because she was born out of wedlock.

The court has ruled in favor of the count and his brother, Alejandro, who had produced a letter signed in 1791 by King Charles IV, establishing that the title of count or countess of Ayala will be transmitted “perpetually and forever more” but only “to their heirs and successors born as a result of legitimate wedlock.”

There were two dissenting votes among the panel of justices, based on the argument that “we cannot admit any spaces protected from the Constitution, no matter how old they may be.”

In 2011, the count of Ayala went to a notary in Cáceres and transferred to his brother Alejandro the rights to use the title and pass it on to his successors.

The count of Ayala went to a notary in Cáceres and transferred the right to use the title to his brother

He did this after a young woman born in 1993 named Raquel Guirado Sánchez began legal proceedings to get the count to admit that he was her father. In 2012, using DNA evidence, this claim was confirmed.

Following that victory, the woman changed her name to Raquel Muguiro Guirado and claimed the right to inherit the title of countess of Ayala. Following an initial adverse decision by a lower court, she appealed to the Provincial Court of Badajoz, which ruled in her favor in March 2014.

This court canceled the count’s title transfer to his brother, paving the way for Raquel to become a countess.

The justices argue that nobility titles are “honorary and symbolic” and remain outside of the Constitution

But her father and uncle then turned to the Supreme Court, which has just settled the matter in their favor. “When the concession letter orders that succession in the nobility title falls exclusively to the children and descendants of legitimate matrimony, this excludes children born out of wedlock,” reads the decision.

The Supreme justices argue that constitutional principles are not being violated, as nobility titles are merely “honorary and symbolic” and remain outside the realm of the Constitution.

The court also notes that in 2006, a law was passed ensuring that men and women would be equal in succession rights to nobility titles.

English version by Susana Urra.

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