John Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer

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The Earl Spencer
Coronet of a British Earl.svg
Spencer Arms.svg
Born Edward John Spencer
(1924-01-24)24 January 1924
London, England
Died 29 March 1992(1992-03-29) (aged 68)
Humana Hospital, Wellington, London, England
Title Earl Spencer
Tenure 9 June 1975 (1975-06-09) – 29 March 1992 (1992-03-29)
Known for Father of Diana, Princess of Wales and maternal grandfather of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry of Wales
Predecessor Albert Spencer, 7th Earl Spencer
Successor Charles Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer
Spouse(s) Frances Ruth Roche
Raine, Countess of Dartmouth
Parents Albert Spencer, 7th Earl Spencer
Cynthia Spencer, Countess Spencer

Edward John "Johnnie" Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer, MVO (24 January 1924 – 29 March 1992), styled Viscount Althorp until 1975, was a British peer and the father of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Early life, education and military career[edit]

Lord Spencer was born Edward John Spencer, Viscount Althorp, the son of Albert Spencer, 7th Earl Spencer, on 24 January 1924.[1] He was educated at Eton, the Royal Military College at Sandhurst, and the Royal Agricultural College. A Captain in the Royal Scots Greys, Lord Spencer fought in the Second World War from 1944 to 1945, and was Mentioned in Despatches. From 1947 to 1950, he served as Aide-de-Camp to then-Governor of South Australia, Willoughby Norrie.[2]

Politics and royal service[edit]

Spencer held the offices of County Councillor for Northamptonshire (1952), High Sheriff of Northamptonshire (1959) and Justice of the Peace for Norfolk (1970).[2] He served as Equerry to King George VI (1950–52) and to Queen Elizabeth II (1952–54),[3] and was invested as a member of the Royal Victorian Order (MVO) in 1954.[2] He was known by the courtesy title Viscount Althorp until 1975 when he became the 8th Earl Spencer upon his father's death.[4]

Family life[edit]

On 1 June 1954 Spencer and Frances Ruth Roche, the younger daughter of the 4th Baron Fermoy, were married in Westminster Abbey by Percy Herbert, Bishop of Norwich. Queen Elizabeth and other British royals attended wedding ceremony.[5] They had five children:

John and Frances Spencer were separated in April 1969. Frances later married Peter Shand Kydd and Lord Spencer married Raine, Countess of Dartmouth on 14 July 1976, the former wife of the 9th Earl of Dartmouth, and the daughter and only child of the romantic novelist Barbara Cartland and Alexander McCorquodale.

Spencer died of a heart attack on 29 March 1992, aged 68.[6]

Titles and styles[edit]


Arms of John Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer
A Coronet of an Earl
Out of a Ducal Coronet Or a Griffin's Head Azure gorged with a Bar Gemelle Gules between two Wings expanded of the second
Quarterly Argent and Gules in the 2nd and 3rd quarters a Fret Or over all on a Bend Sable three Escallops of the first
Dexter: A Griffin per fess Ermine and Erminois gorged with a Collar Sable the edges flory-counterflory and chained of the last and on the Collar three Escallops Argent; Sinister: A Wyvern Erect on his tail Ermine similarly collared and chained
Dieu Defend Le Droit (God defend the right)



  1. ^ "The 8th Earl Spencer, 68, Dies; Father of the Princess of Wales". The New York Times. 30 March 1992. Retrieved 29 May 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c "Person Page 100 earl daniel spencer was his great great grand father 89: Edward John Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer". The Peerage. 
  3. ^ "Diana, Princess of Wales biography". The official website of the British Monarchy. Earl Spencer was Equerry to George VI from 1950 to 1952, and to The Queen from 1952 to 1954. 
  4. ^ "Princess Diana: The Earl's daughter, born to life of privilege". CNN. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  5. ^ "Queen heads lists guests at wedding". The Montreal Gazetta (London). 1 June 1954. Retrieved 21 July 2013. 
  6. ^ "Edward John Spencer; Earl Was Princess Diana's Father". Los Angeles Times (London). 30 March 1992. Retrieved 29 May 2013. 

External links[edit]

Honorary titles
Preceded by
Sir Gyles Isham, Bt
High Sheriff of Northamptonshire
Succeeded by
Evelyn Fanshawe
Peerage of Great Britain
Preceded by
Albert Spencer
Earl Spencer
9 June 1975 – 29 March 1992
Succeeded by
Charles Spencer