A YOUNG Australian man is the talk of Spain after embarking on a high-profile romance with a Spanish aristocrat 34 years his senior.
Timothy McKeague, 32, from Perth, is dating Carmen Martinez-Bordiu y Franco, 66, the granddaughter of the late Spanish dictator Francisco Franco.
The pair met in July at a yoga retreat in the south of France and moved in to Ms Martinez-Bordiu y Franco's flat in Madrid in September.
The romance between the young lifestyle and wellness coach and the thrice-married socialite has electrified Spain, with magazines and newspaper dedicating pages to the Spanish princess and her "toy-boy.''
Ms Martinez-Bordiu y Franco sold their story to Spanish magazine Hola! for a reported $60,000, but the media pressure in the past week has seen them flee their home, and they are thought to be hiding out in a second residence in France.
In the Hola! interview, Ms Martinez-Bordiu said Mr McKeague was a "happiness therapist'' who had helped improve her mental health.
"He has helped me a lot in a very delicate moment of my life when I wasn't well,'' she said.
"He does alternative therapies and lifestyle coaching, something like spiritual mental balance and health.''
She told the magazine Mr McKeague had lived with monks in India, retired for months to meditate alone in the mountains of Nepal and had discovered new disciplines in Japan, Bali, the Himalayas and Sri Lanka.
She said he had done business with powerful people in Australia but "he felt a void in his life, so he went to Isla Margarita, Venezuela, where he spent three years.''
He appeared in a TV news clip in Australia in January 2015 discussing how he escaped serious injury in a car crash that was captured on dash-cam, a brief brush with fame that has been picked up by all the Spanish newspapers.
"I just let go and let my body relax and the car went straight through me," Mr McKeague told Nine News.
El Pais newspaper said Ms Martinez-Bordiu was a "very positive and cheerful'' person who did not care what people thought about her.
The newspaper quoted an unnamed source as saying Mr McKeague was a very calm and observant man, "who shows that he admires her. A natural boy impressed by an older woman who retains her appeal and sensuality.''
In the Hola! interview, Ms Martinez-Bordiu said she met Mr McKeague through a friend.
"We did yoga, walked, talked ... and suddenly I realised that something was joining us,'' she said.
"We met in July, we started dating in September ... I am renewed, rejuvenated and happy."
Ms Martinez-Bordiu confirmed Mr McKeague was the same age as her daughter Cynthia.
"Well, yes, he has the age of my children ... and what, I am well with him, if people are okay with it, wonderful, otherwise nothing happens," she said.
She said Mr McKeague was "that kind of person who needs freedom", which was perfect for someone as independent as her.
Ms Martinez-Bordiu was born in 1951 in the ancient Palacio del Pardo in Madrid into an aristocratic family. The dictator Franco was her maternal grandfather, and the family held political power until Franco died in 1975.
She has been married three times - first to Alfonso de Borbon in 1972. Franco named him a duke upon their marriage, making Ms Martinez-Bordiu a princess. They had two sons - one later died - and divorced in 1982.
She married French antiques dealer Jean-Marie Rossi, 22 years older than her, in 1984, and the pair had daughter Cynthia. The marriage ended in divorce in 1995.
Her third husband was businessman Jose Campos Garcia, who was 13 years her junior; they married in 2006 but the marriage ended several years later.
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