Who is who in the family of former dictator Francisco Franco
The seven children of Carmen Franco and her grandson, Luis Alfonso de Borbón, are the heirs to both his political legacy, and his assets
In December 2017, Carmen Franco y Polo, the only daughter of former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, died at the age of 91. With her passing from cancer, a chapter for the Franco family was closed. Until her death, she had kept an iron grip on her family’s businesses, and represented the legacy of her father through the Francisco Franco Foundation. Married to Cristóbal Martínez-Bordiú, the 10th Marquis of Villaverde, she had seven children, although she also brought up her grandson Luis Alfonso, the son of Carmen Martínez-Bordiú y Franco and Alfonso de Borbón, as if he were her own. Below is a guide to the grandchildren (and great grandchild) of the former Spanish dictator.
Carmen Martínez-Bordiú y Franco (1951) is the best-known of the clan, and was given the title of Duchess of Franco after her mother died. She lives from selling exclusive stories to the gossip press about her love life. After a romance during her youth with the horse rider Jaime Rivera, in 1972 she married Alfonso de Borbón y Dampierre, the grandson of King Alfonso XIII, and had two sons: Francisco, who died in 1984 in a traffic accident, and Luis Alfonso. She is currently in a relationship with an Australian life coach. Since her mother passed away, she has kept silent after making a pact to not speak to the media until the inheritance has been shared out between her and her siblings.
Mariola Martinez-Bordiú y Franco (1952) studied architecture, but has never worked in that field. In 1974 she married a man named Rafael Ardid Villoslada, whom Franco did not like given that he was the grandson of a Republican general who had been sentenced to hard labor. After a brief dalliance in the limelight during the early years of her marriage, she has now turned her back on fame.
Francisco Franco Martínez-Bordiú (1954), known as Francis, changed the order of his surnames in order to publically maintain the Franco bloodline. He was married to Peruvian aristocrat María Suelves before getting divorced and marrying Miriam Guisasola. The couple have had a rocky relationship, however, having broken up and got back together on numerous occasions. They are currently separated. Francis heads up the family businesses and is in charge of dividing the inheritance left behind by his mother. Among their most valuable assets is the family home where Carmen Polo lived and died, a building located in Hermanos Bécquer street in Madrid and valued at €50 million. Francis has had a number of run-ins with the law, and earlier this year was sentenced to 30 months in jail after he fled from the Civil Guard in an all-terrain vehicle. He is currently appealing the case and is yet to see the inside of a jail cell. He has also defended the legacy of his grandfather in a book he wrote entitled The nature of Franco. When my grandfather was a person.
Merry Martínez-Bordiú y Franco (1956) studied restoration and married journalist and author Jimmy Giménez Arnau in 1977. After their divorce she married American Greg Tamler, but that marriage also ended. She currently lives in the United States.
José Cristóbal Martínez-Bordiú y Franco (1958) abandoned his university studies in architecture to join the military. He married TV presenter Jose Toledo, whom he divorced this year. Along with his brothers, he manages some of the family businesses, having specialized in the real estate sector.
Arancha Martínez-Bordiú y Franco (1962) works in restoration and is married to lawyer Claudio Quiroga, the son of a former managing director of Spanish power firm Unión Fenosa, although she had a previous long relationship with her cousin Alejo Martínez-Bordiú. She shuns the public limelight, and is the only woman from the family to have a role in their businesses.
Jaime Martínez-Bordiú y Franco (1964) is a lawyer, and in 1995 he married model Nuria March, but the relationship ended in divorce. He works with his brothers in the family businesses. As he himself has explained on a TV show, he has had a torrid past due to his addictions. In 2010 he was accused of brandishing a weapon at a driver, and had to appear in court over his alleged links to a haul of six kilos of cocaine. He spent a night in jail for allegedly assaulting his then-girlfriend, Ruth Martínez.
Luis Alfonso de Borbón (1974) (grandson). After the death of his father Alfonso de Borbón in January 1989, while skiing in the Rocky Mountains in the United States, the 14-year-old Luis Alfonso was taken in by his grandmother, Carmen Franco. He is one of the current pretenders to the defunct French throne, and if he were to reign, would do so as Louis XX. In 2004, he married Venezuelan María Margarita Vargas Santaella. He works in the businesses of his father-in-law, the Venezuelan millionaire banker and businessman Víctor José Vargas.
Among the property owned by the family is the building at number 8 Hermanos Bécquer street, a total of 4,800 square meters in one of the most exclusive neighborhoods of Madrid. They also own a 900-hectare country estate in the southwest of Madrid called Valdefuentes, and the Cornide Palace in La Coruña, northwestern Spain, which is valued at €5.5 million. They also count on the house where Franco was born in Ferrol, as well as the controversial Pazo de Meirás, a 19th-century manor house that became the dictator’s personal property and summer residence after the Civil War, but which is subject to a legal battle by the local authorities in order to see it become property of the state.