Infante Alfonso, Duke of Galliera

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Infante Alfonso
Alfonso de Orleans, de Franzen.jpg
Duke of Galliera
Predecessor Infante Antonio
Successor Infante Alvaro
Born (1886-11-12)12 November 1886
Madrid, Spain
Died 6 August 1975(1975-08-06) (aged 88)
Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Spain
Spouse Princess Beatrice of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Issue Infante Alvaro, Duke of Galliera
Afonso d'Orléans
Ataúlfo d'Orléans
Full name
Alfonso María Francisco Antonio Diego
House Orléans-Galliera
Father Infante Antonio, Duke of Galliera
Mother Infanta Eulalia of Spain
Religion Roman Catholicism
Arms of Alfonso of Orléans as Infante of Spain.

Alfonso de Orleans y Borbón, Infante of Spain, Duke of Galliera (12 November 1886 – 6 August 1975) was a Spanish military aviator and first cousin of Alfonso XIII of Spain.

Early life

Alfonso was born in Madrid, Spain, the elder son of Infante Antonio, Duke of Galliera and his wife, Infanta Eulalia of Spain.[1] On his paternal side he was a grandson of Antoine, Duke of Montpensier, while on his maternal side he was a grandson of Queen Isabella II of Spain. On 30 November 1886, in the Royal Palace of Madrid, he was baptised with the names Alfonso María Francisco Antonio Diego.[2]

In 1899 Alfonso and his younger brother Luis Fernando were sent to England to be educated by the Jesuits at Beaumont College.[3] They remained there until 1904.

Aviation career

In 1906 Alfonso graduated from the Academia Militar de Toledo (Military Academy of Toledo). In 1910 he trained as a pilot in France. Upon returning to Spain, be successfully become one of the first and most distinguished aviators in the Spanish military. He served as chief of aerial operations for the 1925 amphibious landings at Al Hoceima in Morocco.

In May 1930 Alfonso was a passenger on the Graf Zeppelin flight from Seville to Brazil.[4] He then continued in the Graf Zeppelin to New York City and visited President Herbert Hoover in Washington, D.C., before returning to Spain.

On 27 February 1931, Alfonso was named Chief of Staff of the Spanish Air Force and Commander of the First Aero District by his cousin King Alfonso XIII.[5]

After the founding of the Second Spanish Republic on 14 April 1931, Alfonso was exiled to London. When he returned to Spain in 1932, he was imprisoned at Villa Cisneros (now Dakhla, Western Sahara). On 1 January 1933, Alfonso and some thirty other monarchist prisoners escaped in a boat, travelling 1800 miles to Lisbon.[6]

In 1937 after the start of the Spanish Civil War Alfonso returned to Spain to head the aerial forces of General Francisco Franco. At the end of the war, he was promoted to general. He was made head of the Second Division Air Force in 1940. Three years later, he was promoted to brigadier general.

For many years Alfonso was the unofficial representative in Spain of the Count of Barcelona, the son and heir of King Alfonso XIII. In 1941 Alfonso was godfather for the Count of Barcelona's younger son Alfonso.[7] In 1945, Alfonso resigned his position in the Spanish Air Force to show his support for the Lausanne Manifesto, a manifesto of the Count of Barcelona arguing for the restoration of the monarchy. This decision put an end to his military career although he continued to pilot aircraft as a civilian.

Marriage and children

Infante Alfonso de Orleans and his wife Princess Beatrice.

On 15 July 1909, Alfonso married Princess Beatrice of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1884–1966), daughter of Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (second son of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom).[8] There was a civil ceremony in Schloss Rosenau, followed by a Catholic religious ceremony in St. Augustine's Church in Coburg, and finally a Protestant religious ceremony in Schloss Callenberg.

The New York Times reported that Alfonso did not have the permission of his cousin King Alfonso XIII of Spain to marry and that he had been "stripped of his Spanish honours and decorations".[9] Beatrice had been raised Protestant, and chose not to convert to Catholicism.[10] Several days after the marriage it was revealed that King Alfonso XIII had no personal objection to the marriage: indeed, he encouraged it and used his influence to obtain a dispensation so as to allow a Catholic ceremony. Nevertheless, the Spanish government insisted that the marriage of a Spanish infante to a Protestant could not receive official approval.[11]

Alfonso was removed from his regiment as a consequence of his marriage. The Times reported that he would also be "tried by a disciplinary council for marrying without the permission of the military authorities."[12]

Alfonso and Beatrice had three children:

  • Infante Alvaro, Duke of Galliera (20 April 1910 – 22 August 1997)
  • Alfonso de Orleans (28 May 1912 – 18 November 1936)
  • Ataúlfo de Orleans (20 October 1913 – 8 October 1974)

In 1911 Alfonso was restored to the rank of lieutenant in the army. In 1912 King Alfonso XIII issued a decree restoring his title.[13]

In August 1913 Beatrice was received into the Catholic Church.[14]

Trip to North America

In 1928 Alfonso visited North America accompanied by his wife and eldest son.[15] The visit was intended to be a preliminary to a visit by King Alfonso XIII which never occurred. On 13 November they arrived in New York City, where they stayed at the home of General Cornelius Vanderbilt III.[16] They were then the guests of Percy Rivington Pyne, II, at his country home in Roslyn, Long Island.[17] They proceeded to Philadelphia where they were the guests of Joseph E. Widener. Later they visited Washington, D.C. (where they met Vice President and Mrs. Charles G. Dawes), Boston, Montreal (where they met the Lieutenant Governor of Quebec, Narcisse Pérodeau), Detroit, and Niagara Falls. They left New York City and returned to Spain on 7 December.[18]


In 1975 Alfonso died of a heart attack at his palace in Sanlúcar de Barrameda.[19]

The Fundación Infante de Orleans, a foundation dedicated to the preservation of historical aircraft in Spain, established in 1989, is named in his honour.



  1. The Times ( 13 November 1886): 5.
  2. "Spain", The Times ( 1 December 1886): 5.
  3. Bernardo Rodríguez Caparrini, "A Catholic Public School in the Making", Paedagogica Historica 39 (December 2003): 743.
  4. "20 Engage Passage for Ocean Flight", The New York Times ( 19 May 1930): 5; "Zeppelin Flies to Seville", The New York Times ( 20 May 1930): 1.
  5. "King Makes Cousin Madrid Air Chief", The New York Times ( 28 February 1931): 20.
  6. "Ragged Spanish Grandees Tell of Escape", The New York Times ( 16 January 1933): 1.
  7. José María Zavala, Dos infantes y un destino (Barcelona: Planez & Janés, 1998), 101.
  8. "The Marriage of Princess Beatrice of Coburg", The Times (17 July 1909): p. 5; "Princess Beatrice Married", The New York Times (16 July 1909): p. 4
  9. "Alfonso Punishes Prince", The New York Times ( 18 July 1909): C4.
  10. "Princess Held to Faith", The New York Times ( 19 July 1909): 1.
  11. "King Alfonso Aided Cousin's Marriage", The New York Times (24 July 1909): p. 4
  12. "The Spanish Royal Marriage", The Times (19 July 1909): p. 5
  13. "Prince Goes to the Front", The New York Times ( 15 September 1913): 1.
  14. "Princess to Enter Catholic Church", The New York Times (15 August 1913): p. 4
  15. "Alfonso's Cousin Will Tour America", The New York Times ( 22 October 1928): 4.
  16. "Royal Visitors from Spain Due Here Nov. 13", The New York Times ( 3 November 1928): 25; "Mrs. C. Vanderbilt Dines Royal Party", The New York Times ( 16 November 1928): 34.
  17. "Spanish Royalties Honored at Dinner", The New York Times ( 21 November 1928): 33.
  18. "Spanish Royalty to be Here Today", The New York Times ( 6 December 1928): 41.
  19. "Prince Alfonso de Orleans", The New York Times ( 7 August 1975): 29.


  • Viaje a los Estados Unidos de S.S.A.A.R.R. los infantes don Alfonso y doña Beatriz de Orleáns y su hijo el príncipe don Álvaro = Trip to the United States of Their R.H. the Infantes Don Alfonso y Doña Beatriz de Orleans and their son the Prince Don Alvaro. Paris, 1929.

External links

Infante Alfonso, Duke of Galliera
Cadet branch of the House of Bourbon
Born: 12 November 1886 Died: 6 August 1975
Italian nobility
Preceded by
Infante Antonio
Duke of Galliera
24 December 1930 – 14 July 1937
Succeeded by
Infante Alvaro