On This Day: Death of Spanish King Alfonso XIII

  February 28, 2016 at 6:02 am by

75 years ago, King Alfonso XIII of Spain died at Rome’s Grand Hotel, aged 54. The former King, who went into exile in 1931 upon the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic, had suffered a series of heart attacks in the week leading up to his death.

Alfonso’s estranged wife, Victoria Eugenia, and three of the couple’s children, Don Juan, Don Jaime and Infanta Beatriz, were by his bedside when he died.

The first funeral of the former King was held on March 3 at the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs, reported to be King Alfonso’s favourite church in Rome. He was buried at the Church of Holy Mary in Monserrato of the Spaniards, but was eventually repatriated to Spain in 1980 and reburied among his ancestors at the Pantheon of the Kings at El Escorial.

King Alfonso was Spain’s monarch from the moment he took his first breath in May 1886 – he was born six months after his father, Alfonso XII, died. His mother, Queen Maria Christina, served as regent until he turned 16 years old.

In 1906, Alfonso married Princess Victoria Eugenia (Ena) of Battenberg, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. They had seven children: Alfonso, Jaime, Beatriz, Fernando, Maria Cristina, Juan (the father of former King Juan Carlos I), and Gonzalo. Two of Alfonso and Ena’s sons inherited haemophilia from their mother, who was a carrier of the gene; this brought a strain upon the pair’s marriage, Alfonso blaming Ena for the illness inflicted upon their eldest son and heir.

A military dictatorship controlled Spain beginning shortly after the end of World War One, with the approval of King Alfonso, but this ended sourly in 1930 when the Prime Minister resigned due to unpopularity and republicans won the majority of municipal elections the following year. King Alfonso left Spain on April 14, 1931 though he did not officially abdicate until January 1941.

Filed under Historical Royals, Spain
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