Princess María de las Mercedes of Bourbon-Two Sicilies

Princess María de las Mercedes
Countess of Barcelona

Bust of Princess María de las Mercedes.
Born (1910-12-23)23 December 1910
Madrid, Spain
Died 2 January 2000(2000-01-02) (aged 89)
Lanzarote, Spain
Burial Escorial
Spouse Don Juan, Count of Barcelona
Issue Infanta Pilar, Duchess of Badajoz
Juan Carlos I of Spain
Infanta Margarita, Duchess of Soria
Infante Alfonso of Spain
Full name
María de las Mercedes Cristina Genara Isabel Luisa Carolina Victoria y Todos los Santos de Borbón-Dos Sicilias y Orléans
House Bourbon-Two Sicilies
Father Prince Carlos of Bourbon-Two Sicilies
Mother Princess Louise of Orléans
Religion Roman Catholicism
Royal styles of
Doña María de las Mercedes de Borbón-Dos Sicilias y Orléans
Countess of Barcelona
Reference style Her Royal Highness
Spoken style Your Royal Highness
Alternative style Ma'am

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.[1]

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.[2]

They had four children:

  1. Infanta Pilar, Duchess of Badajoz (born 1936)
  2. King Juan Carlos I (born 1938)
  3. Infanta 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.[3]

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.[2]

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.[4] 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



National Honours


Foreign honours


See also


  1. Doña María de las Mercedes
  2. 1 2 Enache, Nicolas. La Descendance de Marie-Therese de Habsburg. ICC, Paris, 1996. pp. 458, 532. (French). ISBN 2-908003-04-X
  3. Coronation guests and their jewels
  4. Maria de Borbon, 89, Mother of Spain's King
  6. "Boletín Oficial del Estado 88-10-15, Spanish Official Journal" (PDF). 1988. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
  10. Titular Sovereign of the order from 1941 to 1977. (Spanish) Royal Order of Queen Maria. Blasones hispanos. Retrieved April 15, 2015
  19. 1 2 3 4 Bunel, Arnaud. "Heraldique europeenne" (in French). Retrieved 18 March 2013.

Media related to Maria Mercedes of Bourbon-Two Sicilies at Wikimedia Commons

Princess María de las Mercedes of Bourbon-Two Sicilies
Cadet branch of the House of Bourbon
Born: 23 December 1910 Died: 2 January 2000
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg
Queen consort of Spain
15 January 1941 – 22 November 1975
Reason for succession failure:
Monarchy abolished in 1931
Succeeded by
Sophia of Greece and Denmark
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