Magazine article The Spectator

Rest in Peace

Magazine article The Spectator

Rest in Peace

Article excerpt

A few weeks ago a goddess died - if that is what goddesses do. Carmen Ordoñez - the Queen of Andalucia was found dead in her apartment in Madrid. Her death will pass unremarked in SW1. There will be no obituary in the Times. Her tragic, often squalid, life will not be the subject of debate in cafés and drawing-rooms up and down the country.

And yet, in that curiously robust culture that resists all homogenising forces thrown in its direction - the world of matadors, gypsies, flamenco singers and dancers, poets, artists and, to a degree, Spain itself - this is a major event.

Carmen Ordoñez lived in the shadow of her astonishing physical beauty and, by proxy, of the dynastic fame of her family. Her grandfather, Cayetano, 'Niño de la Palma', celebrated by the poet Alberti, would have been the most famous son of Ronda had not his son Antonio (Carmen's father and Ernest Hemingway's model for Death in the Afternoon) eclipsed his whole generation with his sober, aristocratic deportment in the ring. Her uncle, Luis Miguel Dominguin, inspired Picasso. Her husband, Francisco Rivera Paquirri, was tragically killed in the ring in Pozoblanco. Her son, Francisco Rivera Ordoñez, a front-rank matador, married Eugenia Martinez de Irujo Fitzjames Stuart, only daughter of the Duchess of Alba, thus becoming by marriage Duke of Montoro. How do you live with all that? The answer is you don't. She didn't.

The criticisms are easy to make. The rich good-time girl who occupied more column inches in Hello! than there are stars in the sky. …

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