Princess Fabiola, Baroness Debarros

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Princess Fabiola, Baroness Debarros Princess of Mantua
Royal House Montillet
Father Prince Juan María of Mantua
Mother Princess Marina del Viretta
Born 14 February 1900
Cavaletta Palace, Mantua
Died 10 December 1999 (Aged 99)
Villa Debarros, Mantua
Buried Prince's Crypt, Basilica on the Rock, Mantua

Princess Fabiola, Baroness Debarros (Fabiola Jeanetta Valentina Maria Angelica Rita; 14 January 1900, Cavaletta Palace, Mantua - 10 December 1999, Villa Debarros, Mantua) was the fifth child and youngest daughter of Prince Juan María of Mantua and Princess Marina del Viretta. She was the sister of Prince Amalio III and aunt to the current reigning Sovereign Princess of Mantua, Fabiola, who was named in her honour. She never married and had no children.


Princess Fabiola's Monogram.

Princess Fabiola was born at the Cavaletta Palace in Mantua on the 14 January 1900. She had three older brothers; Amalio III, later Prince of Mantua (1893 - 1978), Carlos, later Baron de San Pablo (1895 - 1970) and Prince Nicolás of Mantua (1899 - 1978). Like her elder sister Princess Mafalda (1897-1968), she was not included in the line of succession to the Mantuan throne until 1950 when succession laws in Mantua were amended following her brother Carlos' decision to marry without permission which saw him expelled from the Princely House. Her education was brief and limited but she was known for her keen interest in wildlife and nature which saw her become President of the Mantuan Society for the Protection of Wildlife in 1920, a position she held for a further 78 years. She was the first female member of the Princely Family with the exception of the consorts to reigning Sovereign Princes to be invested with a Mantuan Order of Chivalry when she was created a Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Montillet on her 18th birthday. She was also the first female member of the Princely Family to be granted a peerage in her own right by her father on her 21st birthday.

As female members of the Princely Family could not pass titles to their children or inherit titles themselves, Prince Juan María was concerned that if his daughter did not marry equally, her children would be born commoners with no titles of their own which he did not feel suitable for the grandchildren of a Sovereign. He therefore issued a decree creating the Barony of Debarros for his daughter with a special provision which would allow any male children she had to inherit their mother's baronial title though still depriving her future husband of a Mantuan peerage. This precedent was later used for the two daughters of Fabiola's youngest brother, Prince Nicolás.

In 1926, Princess Fabiola (Debarros) asked for permission to marry an Alexandrian businessman, Pio de Sales. However, before permission was sought from the Royal Council or the National Council, the Princess changed her mind. She never married. Following the death of her father, she purchased a small villa outside San Leopoldo en la Piedra which she named the Villa Debarros. This would be her home until her death in 1998. She was the longest lived member of the Princely Family in history and was godmother to two heirs to the Mantuan throne; her niece Princess Fabiola (b. 1935) and her great-nephew Hereditary Prince Amadeo (b. 1965).

She died just two months and five days short of her 100th birthday and was given a full state funeral before being buried in the Prince's Crypt at the Basilica on the Rock. The Princess Fabiola Prize was created in her honour in 1990 to recognise those who contribute in the field of environmental causes and conservation.

Titles & Styles from Birth to Death

  • 14 February 1900 - 14 February 1921: Her Serene Highness Princess Fabiola of Mantua
  • 14 February 1921 - 10 December 1999: Her Serene Highness Princess Fabiola, Baroness Debarros