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Princess María de las Mercedes of Bourbon-Two Sicilies

Princess María de las Mercedes of Bourbon-Two Sicilies

Italian princess
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro Italian princess
Gender female
Birth 23 December 1910 (Madrid)
Death 2 January 2000 (Lanzarote)
Mother: Princess Louise of Orléans
Father: Prince Carlos of Bourbon-Two Sicilies
Siblings: Princess Isabel Alfonsa of Bourbon-Two SiciliesPrincess Maria de los Dolores of Bourbon-Two SiciliesPrincess Maria de la Esperanza of Bourbon-Two Sicilies
Spouse: Infante JuanCount of Barcelona
Children: Infanta PilarDuchess of BadajozJuan Carlos IInfanta MargaritaDuchess of SoriaInfante Alfonso of Spain
The details

María de las Mercedes de Borbón-Dos Sicilias y Orléans, Countess of Barcelona (Spanish: Doña María de las Mercedes Cristina Genara Isabel Luisa Carolina Victoria y Todos los Santos de Borbón-Dos Sicilias y Orléans (Spanish pronunciation: [maˈɾi.a merˈθeðes]; 23 December 1910 – 2 January 2000) was the mother of Juan Carlos I, King of Spain from 1975 to 2014.


María was born in Madrid, daughter of Prince Carlos of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, Infante of Spain, a grandson of King Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies, and his second wife, Princess Louise of Orléans, daughter of Prince Philippe, Count of Paris, a pretender to the French throne. She was granted, at birth, the rank and precedence of an infanta of Spain, although not the actual use of the title, her own being princess of Bourbon-Two Sicilies. Her family moved to Seville, when her father was made Captain General of that province. When the Second Spanish Republic forced them into exile, they lived in Cannes and later in Paris, where she studied art at the Louvre.

On 14 January 1935, she attended the wedding, in Rome, of Infanta Beatriz of Spain, daughter of King Alfonso XIII. There she met the brother of the bride, her second cousin and future husband, the Infante Don Juan, fourth son and designated heir of Alfonso XIII of Spain. They married in Rome on 12 October 1935. When her husband took up Count of Barcelona as a title of pretence on 8 March 1941, María became the Countess of Barcelona.

They had four children:

  1. Infanta Doña Pilar, Duchess of Badajoz (born 1936)
  2. King Juan Carlos I (born 1938)
  3. Infanta Doña Margarita, Duchess of Soria, 2nd Duchess of Hernani (born 1939)
  4. Infante Don Alfonso (1941–1956)

They lived in Cannes and Rome, and, with the outbreak of World War II, they moved to Lausanne to live with Queen Victoria Eugenie, the mother of Infante Juan. Afterwards, they resided at Estoril, in Portugal.

In 1953, the Countess represented the Spanish Royal Family at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

In 1976, one year after the monarchy was restored in Spain in the person of her son, Juan Carlos, they returned to Spain. She mediated between her son and her husband, estranged since Juan Carlos had been designated heir by Franco. In 1977, Juan renounced his rights in favour of their son, who officially allowed him to retain the title of Count of Barcelona.

She broke her hip in 1982 and the left femur in 1985, which forced her to use a wheelchair for the rest of her life. She became a widow in 1993.

She was a fervid fan of bull fighting and of the Andalusian culture. In 1995, her granddaughter Infanta Elena married in Seville in part because the Countess' love for the city.

She was the 1,171st Dame of the Royal Order of Queen Maria Luisa on 4 March 1929.

She died of a heart attack in the royal residence of La Mareta, in Lanzarote, where the royal family was to celebrate the New Year. She was buried with the honors of a queen at the Royal Crypt of the monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, near Madrid.


Honours and Styles


  • Her Royal Highness Princess María de las Mercedes of Bourbon-Two-Sicilies (23 October 1910 – 11 October 1935)
  • Her Royal Highness Infanta María de las Mercedes of Spain (12 October 1935 – 7 March 1941)
  • Her Royal Highness The Countess of Barcelona (8 March 1941 – 30 March 1993)
  • Her Royal Highness The Dowager Countess of Barcelona (1 April 1993 – 2 January 2000)


National Honours
  • Kingdom of the Two Sicilies Calabrian House of Bourbon-Two Sicilies: Knight Grand Cross of Justice of the Two-Sicilian Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George
  •  Spain: Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Charles III

  •  Spain: 9th Titular Grand Mistress and 1,171st Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Queen Maria Luisa
  •  Spain: Dame of the Decoration of the Royal Cavalry Armory of Seville
  •  Spain: Dame of the Decoration of the Royal Cavalry Armory of Granada
  •  Spain: Dame of the Decoration of the Royal Cavalry Armory of Valencia
  •  Spain: Dame of the Decoration of the Royal Cavalry Armory of Zaragoza
Foreign honours
  • Greece Greek Royal Family: Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Saints Olga and Sophia
  •  Sovereign Military Order of Malta: Bailiff Dame Grand Cross of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta
  •  United Kingdom: Recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Badge Medal


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