Monday, April 15, 2019

Fifty Years Since the Death of Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain

On 15 April 1969, Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain died at Lausanne, Switzerland, at the age of eighty-one. The queen was buried on 18 April 1969 at the Église du Sacré-Cœur in Lausanne. Sixteen years later, Her Majesty was reburied at El Escorial in Spain on 25 April 1985.

Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain

The future queen of Spain was born on 24 October 1887 at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. The princess was the daughter of Prince Henry of Battenberg (1858-1896) and Princess Beatrice of the United Kingdom (1857-1944), who had married in 1885. The newest Battenberg was named after her grandmother, Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, and her godmother, Empress Eugénie of the French.

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Princess Victoria Eugenia of Battenberg married King Alfonso XIII of Spain on 31 May 1906 at San Jerónimo el Real in Madrid. The celebrations were marred by a failed assassination attempt on the couple. Victoria Eugenia's wedding was attended by her mother Beatrice, by her brothers Alexander and Louis, and by her cousins the Prince and Princess of Wales (the future King George V and Queen Mary).

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Assassination attempt on King Alfonso XIII and Queen Victoria Eugenia on their wedding day

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In the course of their marriage, King Alfonso and Queen Victoria Eugenia had seven children in quick succession. The first to arrive was the heir, Infante Alfonso, Prince of Asturias, on 10 May 1907. The Prince of Asturias renounced his dynastic rights in 1933 upon his first marriage to Edelmira Sampedro-Ocejo y Robato, Countess of Covadonga (1906-1994). The couple's union ended in divorce in 1937. That same year, Alfonso married Marta Esther Rocafort-Altuzarra (1913-1993); they separated after a few months and were divorced in 1938. The Prince of Asturias passed away at the age of thirty-one on 6 September 1938. Like his youngest sibling, Gonzalo, the prince had inherited haemophilia, the tragic legacy of Queen Victoria, through his mother Queen Victoria Eugenia.

Infante Alfonso, Prince of Asturias

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Next to arrive was Infante Jaime on 23 June 1908. Jaime, who was titled Duke of Segovia, renounced his rights to the throne of Spain in 1933. The infante married twice, both times morganatically. In 1935, Jaime married Emanuelle de Dampierre (1913-2012), with whom he had two sons, Alfonso and Gonzalo. The Duke and Duchess of Segovia civilly divorced in 1947. In 1949, Infante Jaime took as his second wife former German actress Charlotte Tiedemann (1919-1979). The Duke of Segovia died on 20 March 1975 at the age of sixty-six.

Infante Jaime of Spain

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Then came Infanta Beatriz on 22 June 1909. Beatriz wed Alessandro Torlonia, 5th Prince of Civitella-Cesi in 1935. Beatriz passed away on 22 November 2002 at the age of ninety-three. Princess Sibilla of Luxembourg (b.1968; née Weiller), wife of Prince Guillaume of Luxembourg and sister-in-law of Grand Duke Henri, is a granddaughter of the infanta.

Infanta Beatriz of Spain

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A stillborn son followed Infanta Beatriz, Infante Fernando, who was born and died on 21 May 1910.

On 12 December 1911, Infanta Maria Cristina joined the family. In 1940, the infanta married Enrico Eugenio Marone-Cinzano, 1st Count Marone. Maria Cristina died at the age of eighty-five on 23 December 1996.

Infanta Maria Cristina of Spain

Infante Juan was born on 20 June 1913: he was given the title Count of Barcelona and married Princess Maria de las Mercedes of the Two Sicilies in 1935. The Count and Countess of Barcelona became the parents of King Juan Carlos I of Spain and his two sisters, Infantas Pilar and Margarita. The Count of Barcelona died on 1 April 1993, aged seventy-nine.

Infante Juan of Spain

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Lastly came Infante Gonzalo, who arrived on 24 October 1914 and died aged nineteen on 13 August 1934. Gonzalo had inherited haemophilia through his mother; this affliction led to his early death after he was involved in an automobile accident.

Infante Gonzalo of Spain

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With her family, Victoria Eugenia departed Spain on 14 April 1931 when elections in the country brought the Republicans to power. Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain became a widow on 28 February 1941, when King Alfonso XIII died at Rome following the fallout of a heart attack suffered earlier in the month. The couple had lived separate lives for sometime. 

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The queen returned to Spain in February 1968 to witness the baptism of her great grandson, Infante Felipe (the current King of Spain). 

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