Frances Shand Kydd
Frances Shand Kydd
Frances Ruth Roche
20 January 1936
|Died||3 June 2004 (aged 68)|
|Known for||Mother of Diana, Princess of Wales|
(m. 1954; div. 1969)
(m. 1969; div. 1990)
|Children||Lady Sarah McCorquodale|
Jane Fellowes, Baroness Fellowes
Diana, Princess of Wales
Charles Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer
|Parent(s)||Maurice Roche, 4th Baron Fermoy|
Ruth Sylvia Gill
Frances Ruth Shand Kydd (previously Spencer, née Roche; 20 January 1936 – 3 June 2004) was the mother of Diana, Princess of Wales. She was the maternal grandmother of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, respectively second and sixth in the line of succession to the British throne. Following her divorce from Viscount Althorp in 1969, and Diana's death in 1997, Shand Kydd devoted the final years of her life to Catholic charity work.
She was born Frances Ruth Roche at Park House, on the royal estate at Sandringham, Norfolk, on 20 January 1936. Coincidentally, her birth coincided with the death of King George V on the very same day. Her father was Maurice Roche, 4th Baron Fermoy, a friend of King George VI and the elder son of the American heiress Frances Ellen Work and her first husband, the 3rd Baron Fermoy. Her mother, Ruth Roche, Baroness Fermoy, was a confidante and lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother). Since birth, she held the style of The Honourable as the daughter of a baron.
Marriage and issue
On 1 June 1954, she married John Spencer, Viscount Althorp (later the 8th Earl Spencer), at Westminster Abbey. Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the royal family attended the wedding ceremony. She was 18 years old and became the youngest woman wed in Westminster Abbey in the last five decades.
They had five children:
- Lady Sarah McCorquodale (born 19 March 1955), who married Neil Edmund McCorquodale, a 2nd cousin once removed of Raine, Countess Spencer.
- Jane Fellowes, Baroness Fellowes (born 11 February 1957), who married Robert Fellowes, Baron Fellowes, then Private Secretary to the Sovereign.
- The Honourable John Spencer, who died 10 hours after his birth on 12 January 1960.
- Diana, Princess of Wales (1 July 1961 – 31 August 1997), first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales.
- Charles Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer (born 20 May 1964), who married firstly Victoria Lockwood, secondly Caroline Freud (née Hutton and former wife of Matthew Freud), and thirdly and presently, Karen Villeneuve.
Divorce and remarriage
Her marriage to Viscount Althorp was not a happy one and, in 1967, she left him to be with Peter Shand Kydd, an heir to a wallpaper fortune in Australia whom she had met the year before. His half-brother was the former champion amateur jockey William Shand Kydd (1937–2014), who was the brother-in-law of John Bingham, 7th Earl of Lucan.
Subsequently, she was named "the other woman" in Janet Shand Kydd's divorce action against her husband.
Frances and Peter Shand Kydd were married on 2 May 1969 and lived on the Scottish island of Seil, where they bought an 18th-century farmhouse called Ardencaple, 10 kilometres from Oban. She divided her time between London, Seil and another sheep farm in Yass, New South Wales. Although she lived a quiet life, she was forced into public view following the engagement of her daughter Diana to Prince Charles on 24 February 1981.
On 14 July 1976, the 8th Earl Spencer married Raine, Countess of Dartmouth, daughter of the novelist Dame Barbara Cartland. He eventually won a bitter custody battle over his children. Shand Kydd and her second husband separated in June 1988, after he left her for a younger woman. She blamed the pressure of media attention for the breakdown of the marriage.
In 1996, she was banned from driving after being convicted of drunk-driving, but denied she had a problem with alcohol. She and Diana quarrelled in May 1997, after she told Hello! magazine that Diana was happy to lose her style of "Royal Highness" following her controversial divorce from Prince Charles. She was reportedly not on speaking terms with her daughter by the time of Diana's death.
She spent her later years in solitude on Seil. She became a Roman Catholic and devoted herself to Catholic charities. She eventually became involved with the Handicapped Children's Trust, the Royal National Mission for Deep Sea Fishermen, the Mallaig and Northwest Fishermen's Association, and the National Search and Rescue Dogs Association.
Death and burial
Shand Kydd died at her home in Scotland at the age of 68 on 3 June 2004, following a long illness that included Parkinson's disease and brain cancer. Her funeral at the Roman Catholic cathedral in Oban on 10 June was attended by her children and grandchildren, including Princes William (who gave a reading) and Harry. Their father, her former son-in-law, Charles, Prince of Wales, did not attend because he was travelling to Washington to lead the British delegation at the state funeral of the former US President Ronald Reagan the following day. Shand Kydd was buried in the local graveyard on the outskirts of Oban in Argyll.
Titles and styles
- 20 January 1936 – 1 June 1954: The Honourable Frances Roche
- 1 June 1954 – 15 April 1969: Viscountess Althorp
- 15 April 1969 – 2 May 1969: Frances, Viscountess Althorp
- 2 May 1969 – 3 June 2004: The Honourable Frances Shand Kydd
- England & Wales, Birth Index, Jan–Feb–Mar 1936, 4b 344, Freedbridge Lynn, Norfolk
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- Milmo, Cahal (25 October 2002). "Diana did not talk to me in final months, admits her mother". The Independent. Retrieved 24 October 2016.
- Farouky, Jumana (14 January 2008). "Diana's Butler Tells Some Secrets". Time. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
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- Meade, Geoff (4 June 2004). "Princes mourning their grandmother". The Journal. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
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- "Books". Amazon. Retrieved 11 June 2013.