A contentious Spanish royal, Pilar of Bourbon passes away
Spain bids farewell to a colourful and polemical royal figure. 'Doña' Pilar of Bourbon, the woman who adamantly refused to be Queen and always spoke her mind without reservations, passed away at the age of 83.
The sister of former king Juan Carlos I and the aunt of the current king, Philip VI, Pilar of Bourbon was born on July 30, 1936 in Cannes, France.
Pilar of Bourbon was the heir to the Spanish crown but she did not want to be queen. In 1967, she renounced the right of succession after marrying Luis Gómez-Acebo, the Duke of Estrada.
The marriage caused a big stir at that time. It was unusual for an heiress of Spain to marry someone of lesser rank. However, love triumphed.
From a young age, Juan Carlos's older sister drew the attention because of her unpredictability and expressive character. It was normal to see her partying in public during the 1980s and '90s.
Since childhood, she had a very close relationship with Juan Carlos I. She also got along well with his wife, Queen Sofia. She joked about her during the New Future Flea Market in 2019: "She's very cheap," and "we should spend a lot."
She never made a secret of her opinions about family members. For example about Letizia, the daughter-in-law of Juan Carlos who went from being a journalist to becoming the new queen in 2014. "Letizia is much smarter than Lady Di," Pilar told the press after Italian newspapers had claimed Letizia was similar to the late British princess.
Pilar also protected her niece, Cristina, when she and her husband Iñaki Urdangarín were prosecuted for corruption. She called it "justice" when they received relatively small punishments.
Pilar's name appeared in the notorious Panama Papers. In 2016, elconfidencial.com revealed that the heiress had maintained "a vague company in Panama for 40 years."
According to elconfidencial, "she managed and presided over Delantera Financiera," a company "created by the controversial law firm Mossack Fonseca in 1974." The company was closed in June 2014, five days after Philip V became King.
Up until the end of her life, Pilar of Bourbon spoke without reservations about Spanish politics. She had nothing good to say about the new leftist government that was being formed in late 2019.
Pilar of Bourbon died in January 2020 of colon cancer. An unusual and outspoken royal family member, she will not easily be forgotten by the Spanish public.