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Prince Carlos Hugo dies

Carlos Hugo de Bourbon de Parma, the former husband of Princess Irene of the Netherlands, has died in Barcelona aged 80. He was suffering from prostate cancer.

Princess Irene, a younger sister of Queen Beatrix, converted to Roman Catholicism in order to marry him in 1964. This caused a furore in the Netherlands, traditionally a predominantly Protestant country.

The wedding took place in Rome, with none of the Dutch royal family attending the ceremony in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. Dutch Protestant sentiment was further enflamed when the newlyweds were received in audience by Pope Paul VI the following day.

Carlos Hugo, Duke of Parma, was the Carlist pretender to the Spanish throne and the marriage was a political nightmare for the Dutch government at the time. In the end, Irene agreed to give up her place in the line of succession to the Dutch throne. The prince failed to persuade Franco to give him the Spanish throne and he abandoned his claim after the dictator's death in 1975.

The couple grew apart and divorced in 1981 although Carlos Hugo maintained a warm relationship with the Dutch royal family. His body will be brought to Noordeinde Palace in The Hague where they will pay their last respects. It will then be taken to Italy to be buried in the family crypt in Parma.

 

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