María del Carmen Franco y Polo, the only daughter of former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, died on Friday at her home in Madrid.
According to her grandson, Luis Alfonso de Borbón, the 91 year old, had been ill for some considerable time, with terminal cancer.
Despite her illness, Carmen, known amongst family members by her nickname ‘Man’ continued in her role as the president of the National Francisco Franco Foundation, defending her father’s legacy until the very end.
In a message on the social media platform Instagram, Alfonso de Borbon wrote “God has taken Man (RIP) but she has not gone: she will be forever in my heart.” “You will always be my super-granny, my second mother, one of my pillars and my example to follow.”
While Carmen shunned the limelight, she told the story of her upbringing in a book called “Franco, My Father” co-written with the historians Jesus Palacios and Stanley George Payne, and published in 2008. Her family heritage made her a divisive figure in Spain, where the legacy of the Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 1939 remains a deeply contentious issue.
With her death there are questions about who will inherit the family businesses and properties, many of which are in the name of Franco’s sole heir. There are estimates the family fortune could be more than €500 million. The question of whether, or to whom, her titles will be passed is also still to be settled.