Pocket Profiles · Spain

The Spanish Nobility (Part Three – The Brides of Alba)

Hofdame Note: This is Part Three of our three part series on Spanish nobility. As a reminder, Part One and Part Two are great primers for this post. Muchas gracias to our Baguette Iselen for this fascinating series!

Ducal House of Alba Family Tree

Please note that this family tree is not comprehensive. It only covers the people we are discussing below. There are many other descendants of the 17th Duke and several second/third marriages that aren’t represented here.

First Generation

María del Rosario de Silva and Gurtubay was the daughter and heiress of the very wealthy duke of Hijar. She was extremely beautiful, elegant and unlucky. She married Jacobo Fitz-James Stuart, Duke of Alba, in 1920 in London. The location was chosen because the duke’s great aunt, the Empress Eugenie of France (his grandmother’s sister), lived there. He had promised her that he’d do whatever was needed for her to attend. Unfortunately, Eugenie died two months before the wedding.

However, the couple were married and the new Duchess of Alba became Queen Ena’s lady-in-waiting and a fashion icon soon after.  

María del Rosario de Silva and Gurtubay/Wikipedia

There’s nothing I can tell you about her wedding dress, other than it was very modern and not what Spaniards were used to see back then, but I can tell you everything about the Vogue cover of 1930: white lace dress from Coco Chanel and Cartier bracelets, pics taken by George Hoyningen-Huene and the article was written by Duchess Solange d’Ayen.

Duchess of Alba in Vogue 1930/Wikimedia

Second Generation

The couple had one child. Cayetana was born in 1926 but she barely remembered her mother who had tuberculosis and spent long months in a clinic in Switzerland. Back home, the duchess was afraid that the toddler would catch the disease and tried not to get close to her and never invited her to her bedroom. She died in 1934 and Cayetana always said that, if her mother had got tuberculosis only five years later, penicillin would’ve saved her.

Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart and Silva married Luis Martínez de Irujo in Seville in 1947. Her dress was made by Flora Villarreal with satin, silk and Brussels lace. Flora travelled every year to Paris and bought haute couture patterns, she acquired the right to reproduce the models purchased to Dior, Balmain, Lanvin, Castillo, Givenchy, Nina Ricci or Chanel. It was a modern design given that Dior presented the New Look in February and Cayetana got married in October wearing a dress inspired by him. The pearl and diamond tiara belonged to empress Eugenie of France. She also wore an engagement gift from her husband, an Art Deco bracelet from Ansorena. Both jewels belong to her daughter Eugenia now.

Cayetana, Duchess of Alba

Click through the slideshow below for photos of Cayetana. The art deco bracelet is featured on the second slide.

Cayetana and Luis had six children: Carlos, Alfonso, Jacobo, Fernando, Cayetano, and Eugenia.

Third Generation

Princess Maria of Hohenlohe-Langenburg married Alfonso Martínez of Irujo, Cayetana’s son, in Marbella in 1977. She wore the Russian tiara too, which you can see here.

María Eugenia Fernandez of Castro married Jacobo Fitz-James Stuart in 1980. They choose the chapel in Liria palace and the bride wore a short dress.

Matilde Solís-Beaumont married Carlos, Duke of Huéscar and eldest son of Cayetana, in Seville in 1988. She was the daughter of the marquis of La Motilla. The dress was made with organza and 70 meters of silk brought from India; the designer was José María Cerezal. She wore the Russian tiara from the Dukes of Hijar, Cayetana’s maternal grandparents, the name comes from the kokoshnik style, not because it was a real Russian tiara.

Eugenia Martínez of Irujo was married in 1998 to Francisco Rivera in Seville. The dress was designed by Emanuel Ungaro with duchess satin in an ivory shade and an embroidery braiding of silk and pearls. She wore the Empress’ tiara. The veil was an old lace mantilla from the Alba family.

Genoveva Casanova married Cayetano Martínez of Irujo in Seville in 2005, in Las Dueñas palace. The dress was a design of Manuel Mota, creative director of Pronovias. The strapless dress was covered with a Chantilly lace bolero jacket during the religious service. She’s wearing Cayetana’s Art Deco bracelet as a tiara.

Fourth Generation

Inés Domeq married Javier, Alfonso Martínez of Irujo’s younger son, in Jerez de la Frontera in 2008. She wore a dress from Manuel Mota for Pronovias.

Asela Pérez Becerrill married Jacobo Fitz-James Stuart, son of Jacobo and María Eugenia, in Liria palace in 2011. The bride wore a dress from Lorenzo Caprile inspired by Zurbarán’s paintings. She wore the family lace mantilla and a longer tulle veil on top of it.

Adriana Marín married Luis, the son of Alfonso Martínez of Irujo, in 2016 in Liria. The bride wore a dress from Teresa Helbig, inspired in the Victorian era.

Sofía Palazuelo married Fernando Fitz-James Stuart, heir of the current duke of Alba, with a dress designed by her aunt Teresa Palazuelo and feather hair ornament from Teresa Briz. The long train was detachable. She wore an emerald bracelet from her family but not a tiara because she got married in the gardens of Liria palace and not inside a church.

Embed from Getty Images

Belén Corsini married Carlos, the second son of the current duke of Alba, in Liria in 2021. The bride wore a design from Navascués made of silk georgette and the train, a piece of fabric that belonged to her family, was made of embroidered plumeti. The diamond earrings belonged to her aunt and the hair ornament was a family heirloom too. 


I hope you enjoyed this three part tour of the Spanish nobility. We have a long and storied history that is not as well known as it should be outside of Spain.