For Prince Xavier of Borbon-Parma, death in a small Swiss town far from Spain Saturday ended a life of bitter disappointment.

The 88-year-old Prince's family of Carlist pretenders retains claims to the throne of Spain in a dispute going back to the Spanish War of Succession in 1700.

And Prince Xavier, a distant cousin of King Juan Carlos clung to the dream of seeing a Borbon-Parma on the Spanish throne.

He renounced his own claim in favor of his elder son, Carlos Hugo, under whose direction of Carlist movement has become increasingly radical.

Prince Xavier was born on May 25, 1889, in Tuscany, northern Italy and as a young man studied agricultural engineering and political science in Paris.

In January, 1936, when the weakened second Spanish Republic edged towards civil war, he was named regent of the Carlist movement by his uncle, Alfonso Carlos.

But at the start of the war, he was expelled from Spain by General Franco after disagreeing over the political objectives of his insurgent offensive against the republic.

Thousands of Carlist volunteers nonetheless supported General Franco, and their red berets and fierce fighting won them fame in the three-year conflict.

Prince Xavier was condemned to death by the Gestapo during World War II after being arrested for supporting the French resistance movement.

But he was freed by American troops in 1944, to assume the leadership of Carlism and to return to Spain in 1952.

His followers proclaimed him king at a congress in Barcelona - but the act was not recognized by any other European royal family and it provoked General Franco to expel him a second time.

He was to be further disillusioned as he saw his family torn by squabbles over the direction Carlism should take, after he had delegated charge of the Carlist movement's politics to his elder son.

Under Carlos Hugo, who now succeeds Prince Xavier as Duke of Parma, the movement's aim became increasingly radical and socialist.

But Prince Xavier's younger son Sixto led a breakaway group in defense of traditionally conservative carlist policies.

The fued led to bloodshed last year when followers of Prince Sixto fired on Carlist at their Montejurra gathering, killing one person and wounded three.

As Prince Xavier's health deteriorated, his sons' rival followers issued claims and counter-claims over the familys head's allegiances.

His death is likely to add fuel to the family quarrel. But Prince Carlos Hugo, though denied a Spanish passport, retains most Carlist support in Spain.