King Felipe of Spain’s aunt, the Duchess of Badajoz, died on Wednesday, 8 January 2020 at the Ruber International Clinic in Madrid, aged 83, from colon cancer.

pilar of bourbon
Infanta Pilar of Spain. Photo: Facebook/Familia Real Española

The Duchess, former King Juan Carlos’ older sister, was admitted to hospital on Sunday, 5 January 2020, after she was diagnosed with colon cancer about a year ago.

Infanta Pilar had surgery in February 2019 and treated with chemotherapy afterwards.

The Infanta María del Pilar Alfonsa Juana Victoria Luisa Ignacia y Todos los Santos de Borbón y Borbón-Dos Sicilias (also known as Pilar of Bourbon or Pilar of Spain) was born on 30 July 1936 in Cannes, France, the eldest of four children of Infante Juan, Count of Barcelona, and his wife, Princess María de las Mercedes of Bourbon-Two Sicilies.

The Duchess and the former King have two younger siblings, Infanta Margarita (born 1939) and Infante Alphonso (born 1941) who died aged 15.

King Juan Carlos and King Felipe VI in 2014. Photo: Casa de SM el Rey / Borja Photographers

The Spanish Royal Family had been forced into exile in 1931 and spent their time living in France, Italy and Switzerland until the monarchy was restored in 1975.

She was a bridesmaid when her brother, then Prince Juan Carlos, married Princess Sophia of Greece and Denmark, during a lavish ceremony in Athens on 14 May 1962.

The Infanta gave up her rights in the succession when she married aristocrat Don Luis Gómez-Acebo y Duque de Estrada, Viscount de la Torre (23 December 1934–9 March 1991) in Lisbon, Portugal, on 5 May 1967. They have five children.

The Infanta Pilar has supported equestrian sport, as President of the International Equestrian Federation from 1994 to 2006 and member of Spain’s International Olympic Committee from 1996 until she retired in 2006.

She became an honorary member and a Member of the Spanish Olympic Committee’s Executive Board.

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