Carmen Polo

Carmen Polo

María del Carmen Polo y Martínez-Valdès, 1st Señora of Meirás (June 11, 1900, Oviedo, Asturias, Spain - February 6, 1988, Madrid, Spain); was Francisco Franco's wife and a member of the Spanish nobility as 1st Señora (Lady) de Meirás Grande of Spain with the title of Doña by Juan Carlos of Spain in 1975, after her and her husband's summer residence, as well as a descendant of a privileged Puerto Rican family.

She was the daughter of Felipe Polo-Vereterra y Florez and wife Ramona Martínez-Valdès y Martínez-Valdès and paternal granddaughter of Claudio Polo y Astudillo and wife Bonifacia Florez. [ [ - María del Carmen Polo y Martinez-Valdez, 1. señora de Meirás ] ] She played an important role in her husband's regime, playing an especially major role in the election of Carlos Arias Navarro (when her husband was already ill) and in censoring the press. [ [ Carmen Polo de Franco of Spain Dies - The Washington Post | ] ] . She was, undoubtedly, the most influential woman in the regime


Her constant smile, pearl forocco, the wedding's postponement became the inspiration for a verse of "La Madelón": "... el comandante Franco es un gran militar que aplazó su boda para ir a luchar..." ("...Commander Franco is a great soldier who postponed his wedding to go to war..."). It was two years before Franco returned to Oviedo.

When he returned, ready to marry, the death of Rafael de Valenzuela, successor to José Millán Astray as commander of the Spanish Legion, intervened. Franco was offered Valenzuela's command, and promotion to the rank of lieutenant colonel. His ambition was too great to resist the opportunity, and he left for Morocco on July 18, 1923, making this promise to his fiancé: "This year we will be married, above all else. If I do not die in combat, I will return to you." Having become Spain's most decorated soldier, Franco was eventually given a leave of forty days, and royal permission to marry. The wedding took place on October 16, 1923, in the church of San Juan el Real de Oviedo. Franco's best man was King Alfonso XIII, represented by General Antonio Losada, military governor of Asturias. Serving as maid of honour was Isabel Pola, Carmen's aunt. The witnesses were the Marquis de la Vega de Anzo, and Franco's brothers, Nicolás and Ramón. Franco did not invite his father, Nicolás Franco, whom he had never forgiven for leaving his mother and living in Madrid with another woman.

Birth of only child, "Nenuca"

The honeymoon lasted only a few days. Franco was needed in North Africa, and he did not wish to be accompanied by his wife. This forced separation lasted fifteen months. At age 32, Franco was promoted to full colonel and made official commander of the Legion. He finally established a home, in Melilla, where he moved Carmen. Franco soon rose to the rank of general. This began a new and difficult life for Carmen, who would have to accustom herself to her husband's constant and unpredictable reassignments. They moved from Madrid to Zaragoza, back to Oviedo, to the Canary Islands, and after the Spanish Civil War, to Salamanca and Burgos. "I felt like an authentic nomad", she said on one occasion.

In the winter of 1926, Carmen moved from Zaragoza to Oviedo, hoping to bear a son. The Francos had been married three years and had produced no children. This delay, abnormal at that time, gave rise to many rumors. In the end, Carmen gave birth to a daughter, Carmen Franco y Polo [ [ - Person Page 11214 ] ] . In Asturian fashion, she was known by many cryptic nicknames, namely "Nenuca", "Carmencita", and "Morita".

The Civil War and afterward

In July of 1936, Carmen and her daughter fled to Le Havre, France, on the German steamboat "Waldi". They traveled under assumed names, fearing that Nenuca might be kidnapped. They waited in Le Havre for Antonio Barroso, who transported them to Bayonne, to the house of his former governess Claverie. At the end of September, Franco sent his cousin and confidant, Salgado-Araujo, to find them.

Around this time, Franco began to style himself "Generalísimo" and head of state. Accordingly, Carmen Polo became known as the first lady of Spain. She was generally referred to simply as "La Señora". Her glamorous persona became part of Franco's image. It is rumored that Jose Antonio de Sangróniz, Franco's chief diplomat, was forced to cancel a reception before the "Junta de Burgos" ("Military Junta of Burgos", named after the town where it was formed) because Carmen did not have suitable clothes for the occasion. She would never have this problem again. Beginning in 1936, she began to build up a large collection of hats, dresses, and pearl necklaces, the latter becoming her trademark. The jewelers of Madrid, afraid to send invoices to the Generalissimo, agreed to collectively distribute the losses they suffered as a result of Carmen's business.Fact|date=February 2007

First lady

Carmen almost always appeared with her husband. This caused some problems when traveling outside Madrid, since it required that Franco's ministers and advisers also be accompanied by their wives, creating problems with lodging. After the war's end, the question of the head of state's residence presented a problem. Franco was initially inclined to live in the Royal Palace, but was disabused of this notion by Ramón Serrano Súñer. Franco instead chose the Palacio Real de El Pardo, where he would settle in March of 1940 following its restoration. The Francos passed their summers at a home in Meirás, and fishing on their yacht "Azor". The home, which had formerly belonged to Emilia Pardo Bazán, was, according to the official story, bought by "popular subscription" for more than 400,000 pesetas.

Carmen embarked on many foreign trips during her time as first lady. She first traveled to Portugal in 1950, and would return in 1958 and 1967. She traveled to Rome in May 1950, to witness the canonization of Antonio María Claret. During the visit, she was granted an audience with Pope Pius XII. On none of her trips abroad was she ever accompanied by her husband.

El Pardo was the center of Spanish political life under Franco, and also the venue for many of the Franco family's personal events. Protocol was rigorously enforced, and largely dictated by la Señora, through the authority of the "Casa Civil".

One of the most famous events of the Franco family was the marriage of the younger Carmen to Cristóbal Martínez-Bordiú, a son of the counts of Arguillo. In addition to his family's land holdings, he also carried the title of Marquis of Villaverde. This greatly pleased Carmen, who had long held aspirations of nobility. The union would produce several children, amongst others María del Carmen Martínez-Bordiú y Franco, the Francos' first grandchild.

Later years

Carmen devoted her later years to her grandchildren. On March 8, 1972, her granddaughter María del Carmen married Alfonso, Duke of Anjou and Cádiz, a member of the House of Bourbon. Carmen hoped that this "operation" would lead to her granddaughter becoming queen. In fact, Juan Carlos would ultimately succeed to the throne. By that time, Franco was greatly diminished, both physically and mentally. With Franco's death, the family's fortunes changed dramatically.

In the ensuing years, Carmen witnessed the disintegration of her family. On January 31, 1976, she left El Pardo for the last time. In 1978, Carmencita was arrested at Madrid Barajas International Airport for attempting to smuggle 300 million's worth of pesetas of gold, jewelry, and medals which had belonged to her father [ [ La cosecha del dictator] , "El Pais", 9 September 2007 es icon] . María del Carmen separated from her husband and moved to Paris, where she lived with the antiquarian Jean Marie Rossi. Francisco was convicted in 1979 for the murder of a male cabaret performer in a hotel in Tarragona. On February 7, 1984, Polo suffered her greatest loss, when her great-grandson Francisco ("Fran") [] was killed at age eleven in a car accident.

In her final years, Carmen rarely left her house, hearing mass at home. She isolated herself completely, ignoring (and ignored by) the press. She explained "It is necessary to have much Christian resignation, in light of the turmoils of my life."

External links

* [ Partial biography] es icon
* [ Spanish Wikipedia] es icon


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