Sunday, February 28, 2016

King Alfonso XIII dead at 54

February 28, 1941

Former King Alfonso XIII of Spain's "amazing struggle for life ended peacefully at 11:50 o'clock this morning in his room" at Rome's Grand Hotel, according to the New York Times.  He was 54 years old.

He died in the presence of his wife, Queen Victoria Eugenia, his two surviving sons, Don Jaime and Don Juan, and his elder daughter, Infanta Beatriz.  His younger daughter, Infanta Maria Cristina, is expecting her first child and was unable to travel from her home in Turin.

Alfonso suffered from heart disease for some time.  Another "sharp attack" of angina pectoris occured at 10 a.m., which began seventeen days ago.  This final attack proved too much for his "weakened condition.

Although he had been in exile since 1931, when Spain was declared a republic,  Alfonso, in death, is "receiving the honors due to a monarch."  His Chamberlain has notified the Italian royal family, the Vatican, and Generalissimo Franco in Madrid.

The King "loved life, and loved it to the hilt."  A few days ago, he told a family member "I do not want to die."

His third son,  Infante Don Juan, the Count of Barcelona, will succeed him.  Several hours before his death,  the King told his Chamberlain, "I hope my coming death will not be too distressing to Don Juan, but he must learn now that Kings must be brave."

Alfonso believed that the monarchy would be restored in Spain, and his son would sit on the throne.

Don Juan has refused to be called "Your Majesty," and will continue to be styled as "Your Royal Highness.  He met with officials to plan his father's funeral.

In Madrid, the Franco government announced that they have given permission for the late king to be buried in the royal pantheon at the Escorial. Generalissimo Franco has ordered Spanish flags to half-staff for three days of mourning for the former king.

King Alfonso XIII was born a king on May 7, 1886, six months after the death of his father, King Alfonso XII.  His mother, Queen Maria Cristina, an Archduchess of Austria by birth, was named Regent until he reached his majority.   In May 1906, he married Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria.  They had seven children.

All images are from the Marlene A. Eilers-Koenig Collection
The late king is survived by his widow,  two sons, two daughters, and several grandchildren, including the Count of Barcelona's son, three-year-old Don Juan Carlos, who becomes the de jure Prince of Asturias.

1 comment:

Victoria said...

My grandmother told me a story about King Alfonso XIII on the day before my wedding on 2-11-89. My grandmother Archduchess Assunta Habsburg Lothringen had married my grandfather Joseph Hopfinger (known as Dr. Joseph Hoppin in NYC, USA ) and he was from Boryslav, Poland area before WWII. Well, I noticed numbers up her arm while playing scrabble in the garden at St. Theresa's Academy in San Antonio, TX one day. She told me our people were from far, far away and that I didn't know them every time I asked her where our people were. The night before I was married in Corpus Christi, Texas my Assunta told me that she had been in a concentration camp with Joseph. Her mother, Infanta Blanca of Bourbon told the camp that it was a mistake. The camp said, "no, she married a Jewish man." Joseph was Jewish indeed, but grandma said that a large stipend was paid to a guard and her and Joseph were extracted from the camp. I said, "what?" Assunta told me that her mother was related to King Alfonso XIII and he had contacted the camp on behalf of Assunta's mother. Grandma said that the German guards were frightened by the idea of the war not going their way and what King Alfonso XIII would do to them if they didn't release his relative. So, thank you from the bottom of my heart King Alfonso XIII. Thank you for getting involved with the release of my grandmother and grandfather. Because of you, Assunta had two daughters and 5 grandchildren, and 10 great grandchildren here in the United States of America. We will be forever grateful. Grandma Assunta used to talk about how proud her mother Infanta Blanca was of her Spanish heritage. My mother Maria Theresa was born in Barcelona, Spain before their immigration to NYC, USA in 1940. She told me that the camp started with the letter D and she would tell nothing else. Years later a cousin of one of grandpa Joseph Hopfinger contacted us and said that only two of grandpa's female cousins survived the holocaust other than her grandfather and mine. I am grateful to be a descendant of my brave grandmother Archduchess Assunta Habsburg Lothringen. She loved her father and mother and siblings very much and spoke about them often. She was the last surviving child of Archduke Leopold Salvator & Infanta Blanca of Bourbon. In the end, she whispered to me that she was the only one left from her time. I didn't want her to go, but it was her time. She lived a long life past age 90. Thank you King Alfonso, thank you. Victoria R. McCracken