Miami, FL Count Of Covandonga Auto Crash, Sep 1938




Miami, Fla., (UP) -- The Count of Covandonga, 31 year old son of the exiled king of Spain, died in a hospital Tuesday after an early-morning automobile accident in which he was injured.
The count was injured when an automobile, driven by his companion, MISS MILDRED GAYDON, 25, crashed into a telephone pole while they were enroute home from a casino shortly after 3 a.m.
MISS GAYDON, who described the count "as a good friend of about eight months," was injured only slightly. Injuries of Covadonga, which otherwise might have been superficial, were complicated by haemophilia, hereditary bleeding disease with which all male members of his historic Bourbon family are afflicted.
The dashing member of the Bourbon royal family who renounced his right to succession in the now non-existent Spanish throne in order to marry a commoner in 1933, died at Victoria hospital at 12:23 p.m., a little more than nine hours after the accident.
With him at the time of death were his secretary and companion, JACK FLEMING, and the attending physician.
MISS GAYDON, who said she went out "quite often" with the 31 year old dark haired former heir to the Spanish throne and described him as "a good friend of mine," told police she saw a truck approaching and pulled the steering wheel sharply to make a left turn off into the boulevard. The car failed to negotiate the turn and crashed into a pole.
MISS GAYDON said she had known the count
"about eight months."
It was learned that JACK FLEMING, the count's secretary, told friends the accident was "pretty bad." It was reported FLEMING had notified the count's parents, the exiled king and queen of Spain, in London.
Count Covadonga was one of the most tragic figures in Europe's dwindling ranks of royalty, but he was one of the few to whom romance was more important than the ancient code of kings. He renounced his pretentions to the Spanish throne to marry a commoner.
The count was born May 10, 1907, as ALFONSO, prince of the Asturias and heir to the throne of King Alfonso XIII. All of his early life was keyed on a military note and, at the age of 1 year, he was put on the rolls of the first company of the first battalion of the king's regiment as a private.
He appeared strong as a child but the dread disease that infiltrated into the Hapsburg and Burbon families -- haemophilia -- later began to make his fate an unhappy one. As a young man, he was guarded carefully against bruises or cuts that might result in fatal bleeding but, like the tsasrevitch, he frequently required the attention of specialists.
By the time he reached his majority, he was forced to live quietly in the palace of San Ildefonso de la Granja where the mountain air appeared to help him or at El Pardo palace near Madrid.
The republican revolution which sent Alfonso into exile resulted in evacuation of the royal family to France and Switzerland. At St. Moritz he met EDELMIRA OECJO SAMPEDRO, a commoner and a Cuban, and made up his mind to marry her despite the opposition of his father. He was disinherited and the hollow title of heir apparent to a non-existent throne was given to his brother, JUAN.
The marriage, in 1933, did not last long. The countess went alone to America and, although her husband later followed, they were divorced May 8, 1937. The count had gone through several periods of illness but at that time was much improved and there were rumors that he would marry MISS MARTA ROCAFORT, daughter of a Havana dentist. These developments further enraged his father, who on May 17 "severed all relations" with his eldest son.
COVADONGA had made his home in a Miami hotel since last fall, when he and MARTA ROCAFORT, his second Cuban commoner, wife, split up a few weeks after their marriage.

Mason City Globe-Gazette Iowa 1938-09-06