The 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 is just around the corner, and I since I trust I won’t be around to write about it for the 200th anniversary, I guess it’s my turn to add a thought or two. I promise not to give my opinion of that numbskull idea of sending a ship to trace the voyage step-by-step for the modest price of $9000 per ticket. The lengths people will go to prove humans haven’t changed much since then.
What I will do is tell you what relationship there was between the ill-fated ocean-liner and Spain. Ten passengers from this country were on board, of which, it seems three did not make it out alive, and of that trio, only one death was “confirmed”.
That individual, and the two who accompanied him, happen to be who we will focus our attention on because the story alone would have made for another movie.
It started about a year and half before when a young couple got married and began its honeymoon. The groom was a Madrid man named Víctor Peñasco y Castellana, nephew of King Alphonse XII and heir to one of the largest fortunes in Spain. His wife, María Josefa Pérez de Soto y Vallejo, also fro Madrid, was herself to come into a mighty a legacy of similar size and depth. To say that theirs was the union of two enormous estates does not even hint at the extent of their affluence. They weren’t just well-off, they were filthy rich. Billionaires of their time.
The wedding was celebrated on December 10, 2010, and was followed by what was customary among the immensely wealthy back then. Endless travel amid shamelessly lavish living.
By the time they boarded the Titanic in April 2012, they were still honeymooning. Yes, that’s fourteen months later, you read right. During that time they had toured much of Europe’s most select towns and resorts. They were the jet set of the age and their lifestyles rivaled the most opulent you can find today. The trip thus far had cost somewhere in the neighborhood of 800,000€.
As the story goes, they learned of the trip while dining at Maxim’s in Paris and decided that they simply had to be a part of it. One person who was not so keen on the idea as Victor’s mother. In fact, she was dead against the idea, pun, I guess intended, and she flat out forbade them to take the boat.
To get arouund the obstacle, the couple came up with a mischievous plan to deceive mom. They wrote several postcards and had their butler stay behind in Paris and send one off every day so that his mother would believe they were still in Paris. Victor and María Josefa (affectionately called “Pepita”), in the meantime, would board the Titanic with her personal maid, a seamstress originally from Cuenca named Fermina Oliva Ocaña. Once in New York, they would be able to let their parents in on the ruse. It would be a bit of harmless fun. Antics for the rich and carefree.