Taking a look at Infanta Margarita as she turns 85

Photo: jhderojas - CC BY 2.0

Infanta Margarita of Spain was born on 6 March 1939 as the third child and second daughter of Princess María de las Mercedes of Bourbon-Two Sicilies and Infante Juan, Count of Barcelona. She was born blind.

Just a few days after her birth, she was baptised in the Spanish National Church of Santiago and Montserrat in Rome. Her godparents were her uncle Jaime and her aunt Esperanza.

She had an elder sister, Infanta Pilar, an elder brother who became King Juan Carlos I of Spain, and a younger brother, Infante Alfonso, who died at the age of 14. As the family was in exile at the time of her birth, she was born in Rome. Her father was the third son and designated heir of King Alfonso XIII of Spain. His elder brother Alfonso suffered from haemophilia and renounced his rights in 1933 to marry Edelmira Sampedro y Robato. His second brother Jaime, who was deaf, also renounced his rights in 1933. The family’s final home before being restored to the throne would be Portugal.

Margarita grew up loving music, especially rock music and was known for attending festivals. The death of her younger brother, Alfonso, and the departure of her elder brother, Juan Carlos, for the army, meant that Margarita was particularly close to her elder sister, Pilar. Margarita learned to speak nine languages fluently, and she plays the piano. She went to nursing school in Madrid and earned a diploma.1

It is said that Margarita met her future husband, Carlos Zurita, at a dinner party in 1969, and they began a discreet relationship. They were married in 1972 after Carlos had completed his doctoral thesis at Bologna University. He became a medical doctor.

Upon the wedding on 12 October 1972, the New York Times wrote, “The ceremony was held in the 16th-century Church of Santo Antonio, where 300 guests had gathered. It is near the Bourbon family residence, Villa Giralda/ The Rev. José Sebastián Bandaran, chaplain to the Spanish royal family, officiated.[…] The bride entered the church on the arm of her father and was ushered by the Duke of Albuquerque, the Duke of Granada and Col. José de Lacour. The bridegroom was accompanied by his mother, Doña Carmen Delgado y Fernández de Santaella.”2

Upon her marriage, Margarita renounced her rights to the Spanish throne, although she kept her titles. The family was restored to the throne in 1975. Margarita and Carlos went on to have two children, a son named Alfonso in 1973 and a daughter named María in 1975.

In 1979, a distant cousin bequeathed her the title of Duke of Hernani, and this request was granted by her brother in 1981, making her the 2nd Duchess of Hernani and Grandee of Spain. The following month, she was also granted the dukedom of Soria for life. The Dukedom of Hernani will, in due time, be inherited by her son. Her husband is Duke of Soria and Hernani, by right of his wife.

Together with her husband, she created the Duke and Duchess of Soria Cultural Foundation. She is the Honorary President of Madrid’s delegation of UNICEF and the Spanish Heart Foundation.

In 2009, Margarita and her husband were awarded honorary doctorates by the University of Valladolid.

She recently attended the 60th birthday party of her niece, Infanta Elena.

  1. The New York Times
  2. The New York Times

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