Diego, Prince of Asturias

Prince of Asturias, Prince of Portugal

Portrait of Diego by Sánchez Coello, ca. 1577.
Born (1575-08-15)15 August 1575
Madrid, Spain
Died 21 November 1582(1582-11-21) (aged 7)
Madrid, Spain
Burial El Escorial
House Habsburg
Father Philip II of Spain
Mother Anna of Austria
Religion Roman Catholicism

Diego Félix of Austria, Prince of Asturias and Portugal (August 15, 1575 November 21, 1582) was the fourth son of Philip II of Spain, and also his third son by his fourth wife Anna of Austria.

Early life

At the time of his birth, Diego's elder brother, Prince Ferdinand, was still the heir-apparent. On the death of his elder brother Ferdinand in 1578, Diego became heir-apparent to the throne. Diego also had another elder brother, Carlos Lorenzo, who died in infancy. His mother had just learned of the death of Carlos Lorenzo, and she was said to have suffered such a shock from word of his death that it caused her to go into premature labor.

He was formally invested as Prince of Asturias on 1 March 1580 by the Courts in Madrid.[1] The poet Cristóbal de Virués dedicated a sonnet to the new Prince, where he proposed that Diego follow the steps of his father.[2]

In 1580, his father became king of Portugal as well, making Diego heir-apparent of that realm also. His mother, Anna, died during a trip to their new kingdom. Diego and his siblings remained in Madrid under the care of half-sisters, Isabella Clara Eugenia and Catherine Michelle. The letters of Philip II make clear that he was extremely proud of Diego: he wrote that his son had already learned the alphabet and dancing by the age of five. In a letter dated 1582 the king wrote to the Indian Viceroy Francisco de Mascarenhas commanding that he bring an elephant to the Prince of Asturias as a gift. Philip II taught his son the Portuguese language so that one day Diego could speak as king with his Portuguese subjects. In addition, Philip II planned to betroth Diego to one of the daughters of John, Duke of Braganza and Catherine of Portugal.


Diego never became king. In late 1582 he contracted smallpox and died. At his death, Philip II was inconsolable, for the only heir to the throne remaining was the small and sickly Infante Philip, assuming the position of Prince of Asturias. The king gave orders that continuous prayers be said at the Church of Our Blessed Lady in Zaragoza for the health of the royal children remaining.

Diego's brother, Philip III, would become king upon his father's death in 1598. Thus continued the lineage of the Spanish Habsburgs.


  1. Friedrich Christoph Schlosser, Georg Ludwig Kriegk: World History for the German people, Vol. 13, Varrentrapp, 1852, p. 202.
  2. Freiherr von Münch: Book for Latin and English literature, Ferd. Dümmler, 1860, p.159.
Diego, Prince of Asturias
Born: 15 August 1575 Died: 21 November 1582
Preceded by
Prince of Asturias
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Prince of Portugal
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