Monday, March 8, 2010

Infanta Eulalia dead at 94

March 8, 1958

Infanta Eulalia of Spain, a member of the Spanish royal family, died today at her villa in Irun, Spain, according to the AP. She was 94 years old. Eulalia had been in ill health "since suffering a heart attack last month."

Eulalia was the daughter of Queen Isabel II and sister to the late King Alfonso XII.
Family members said she will be buried in the El Escorial, 30 miles northwest of Madrid. The late infanta will be the first member of the royal family to be buried there since the fall of the monarchy in 1931.

The New York Times reports that the infanta, "although born to the people," spent much of her life "turning her royal relatives crimson with rage. She spent more time in the headlines of newspapers than in the Court of Spain."

Infanta Eulalia was born at the royal palace in Madrid on February 12, 1864. She was only two years old when Queen Isabel and her family were forced to flee to France. Isabel abdicated the throne, and five years later, after the end of the revolution in 1870, Eulalia's brother, Alfonso XII, became king of France.

On March 6, 1886, Eulalia married her cousin, Prince Antoine of Orleans-Borbon, the son of the Duke of Montpensier.

She disdained her husband "with the same violence" that her mother showed to her father. And, like "her mother, Eulalia cloaked her marital miseries with gaiety."
Library of Congress

In 1893, the blue-eyed Infanta, who was barely 5 feet tall and weighed less than 100 pounds, arrived in New York, en route to Chicago to attend the World's Fair. Eulalia's "glittering gowns dazzled local citizens." She "snubbed social leaders to eat sausages on the midway at the fair." She was expected to attend mass at a cathedral but went instead to a Roman Catholic church in a poor parish.
But Infanta Eulalia "chose her friends by the size of their bankroll."

Eulalia failed to win Papal permission for a divorce, although she remained separated from her husband. She moved to Paris and "began the practice of presenting American millionaires to noble families." Business leaders and their wives would be introduced to "Eulalia's relatives with every royal house of Europe," and, in return, Eulalia would "receive a gift of an automobile or the loan of a yacht."

Infanta Eulalia was the author of several books, where she "related her experiences, observations, and opinions." Her first book, "Au Fil de a Vie," "nearly upset negotiations between France and Spain over Morocco in 1911.

Her nephew, King Alfonso XIII of Spain, was so furious with her that he sent her a telegram "forbidding the publication of the book." Alfonso's order and Eulalia's reply were both published on page one of the New York Times.

The book sold "like hot cakes" in France, and Alfonso threatened to end all negotiations with France.
In a telegram to her nephew, 23, Eulalia wrote: "I am astonished that anyone should judge a book before knowing what it is. Such a thing is only possible in Spain. Never have loved court life, I take this opportunity to bid you goodbye, for, after such a proceeding, which is worthy of the Inquisition, I consider myself free to live in private life as seems good to me."

The root of this particular scandal was Eulalia's defense of divorce. She also wrote of improving conditions for servants and working-class men and women. and she "pleaded for the equality of the sexes."

Eulalia showed sympathy for the poor, but this was balanced with a "let-them-eat-cake" attitude."
Eulalia, a very opinionated woman, often visited her two sons, Alfonso, and Luis Fernando, at Eton, although she was never invited to Windsor Castle or Buckingham Palace. Her final book was "Memories of a Spanish Princess," which was published in 1937.

She wrote: "We who have seen so many of our traditions crumble in the dust find our one solace in the knowledge that a new world is about to evolve." She "banked on Generalissimo Francisco Franco to bring about that new world."

Eulalia once owned $5,000,000 in jewels, which she had inherited from her mother. In 1935, the "jewel box went astray in Madrid."
After her income was cut off after Alfonso XIII's abdication in 1931, Eulalia "moved into modest quarters in Paris."

Infanta Eulalia is survived by her son, Infante Don Alfonso, Duke of Galliera, his wife, Beatrice, and their children and grandchildren. Her younger son, Luis Fernando, died in 1945.
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