Lady Sarah McCorquodale

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Lady Sarah McCorquodale
Born The Honourable Elizabeth Sarah Lavinia Spencer
(1955-03-19) 19 March 1955 (age 60)
Residence Stoke Rochford, Lincolnshire
Nationality British
Education Riddlesworth Hall
West Heath
Known for Older sister of Diana, Princess of Wales
Title The Lady Elizabeth Sarah Lavinia Spencer
Spouse(s) Neil Edmund McCorquodale (m. 1980)
Children Emily Jane McCorquodale
George Edmund McCorquodale
Celia Rose McCorquodale
Parent(s) John Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer
Frances Shand Kydd
Relatives Diana, Princess of Wales (sister)
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (nephew)
Prince Harry of Wales (nephew)

Lady Elizabeth Sarah Lavinia McCorquodale (née Spencer; born 19 March 1955)[1] is the elder sister of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Early life[edit]

Sarah was born The Honourable Elizabeth Sarah Lavinia Spencer; she acquired the courtesy title The Lady Elizabeth Sarah Lavinia Spencer in 1975, when her grandfather died and her father became the 8th Earl Spencer. She suffered from the eating disorder anorexia nervosa in her early twenties.[2] She was educated firstly at Riddlesworth Hall School in Norfolk and secondly at West Heath boarding school near Sevenoaks in Kent. She left West Heath after passing O Level exams to work in London.


Sarah married Neil Edmund McCorquodale (born 1951), son of Alastair McCorquodale and Rosemary Sybil Turnor, on 17 May 1980 in Northamptonshire, England.[3] Neil McCorquodale is a nephew of Lady Sarah's stepmother, Raine Spencer.

Neil McCorquodale and Lady Sarah McCorquodale have three children:[4]

  • Emily Jane McCorquodale (born 2 July 1983) married James Hutt on 9 June 2012.[5] She was discovered to be suffering from plasmacytoma, a form of cancer which usually affects the elderly, after she fell ill in 2003.[6] She was given radiotherapy treatment at Nottingham Hospital for several tumours close to her spine.[6]
  • George Edmund McCorquodale (born 17 November 1984)
  • Celia Rose McCorquodale (born 1989)

Lady Sarah was accompanied by her husband and their children to the service of thanksgiving for the life of Diana at Westminster Abbey on 6 September 1997. Sarah was a lover of Charles, Prince of Wales, prior to his marriage to her younger sister Diana.[7] She later commented on her sister's marriage saying: "I introduced them. I'm Cupid."[8]


She and her family reside near Grantham, Lincolnshire where she served a one-year term as High Sheriff of Lincolnshire in 2009, the unpaid enforcer of the Queen's writ in the county.[9][10] She became a master of the Belvoir Hunt in May 2010.[10] She has been a member of the hunt for many years.[10] Lady Sarah was also president of the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.[11][12] Since the death of her sister Diana, Lady McCorquodale had to spend much of her time fretting over the accounts of the charity that was set up in the Princess' memory. It had raised an astonishing £100 million for good causes, however it attracted controversy with its legal actions to protect the princess' copyright, including a disastrous case against the Franklin Mint.[11] The Fund closed at the end of 2012.[13]


Diana, Princess of Wales[edit]

In 1977, Sarah's relationship with Prince Charles led to the first meeting between Diana and her future husband. During the period in which she dated the prince, she allegedly met two reporters, James Whittaker and Nigel Nelson, at a restaurant and gave them an exclusive report on her royal connection.[14] She is said to have admitted to having been diagnosed with anorexia, having "thousands of boyfriends", a past problem involving alcohol, and that she had started keeping a scrapbook of all the press clippings about her royal romance that she intended to "show" future grandchildren. "Her head seemed to be turned by the publicity", the two reporters later said. She also declared that she would not marry Charles "if he were the dustman or the King of England".[14] When the article was released, she showed it to the prince, which made him furious[14] and he replied, "You've just done something incredibly stupid". The relationship dissolved soon after that. Some have stated the relationship between her and Diana was strained, because of her long resentment of the Prince marrying Diana and not her, though others (including Diana's biographer Andrew Morton) have said she was one of the few people Diana trusted. Later in Diana's life, she often accompanied Diana on official visits as one of her ladies-in-waiting.[15] Lady Sarah was also in regular contact with Diana immediately before her death and talked to her the day before she was killed.[16]

Upon the death of Diana on 31 August 1997, Sarah flew to Paris with her younger sister, Jane, and Prince Charles to accompany Diana's body back to England. She contributed to the readings at Diana's funeral. She was co-executor of Diana's will and was president of the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.[3] Sarah also attended the wedding of her nephew Prince William to Catherine Middleton on 29 April 2011. It is said that William and Catherine are close to Lady Sarah, with whom they spent a weekend on the 16th anniversary of Diana's death.[17]

It was later revealed that Lady Sarah had offered Paul Burrell, the butler to Diana, anything he wanted from Diana's possessions which he refused.[16] However Burrell was seen by a policeman loading his car with Diana's possessions at on a day after she died. According to Sarah they were "only the clothes she had been wearing on the night she was killed".[16] She said after her sister died she had shredded some of her letters and took some personal clothing home.[16]

Other siblings[edit]

Sarah has shared a lifelong close relationship with her younger sister Jane. Author Anne Edwards, who wrote a best selling biography on the life of Diana, said Diana's two older sisters were extremely close and loyal to each other. Sarah gave her first child, Emily, the middle name of 'Jane' in a tribute to her younger sister. Her relationship with younger brother Earl Spencer has been volatile at the best of times. As the eldest and the youngest of the Spencer children, they have clashed frequently in adulthood and childhood. In recent years, possibly due to the death of their sister, the siblings appear to have settled previous differences.



  1. ^ "Lady Sarah Spencer Mccorquodale". Retrieved 14 August 2015. 
  2. ^ "Life of luxury stripped sparse by tragedy". Scotsman. 4 June 2004. Retrieved 27 May 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Geoffrey Levy; Richard Kay (2 July 2010). "Yesterday was Diana's 49th birthday". The Daily Mail. Retrieved 27 May 2013. 
  4. ^ "Lady Elizabeth Sarah Lavinia Spencer". The Peerage. Retrieved 14 August 2015. 
  5. ^ "William and Harry among the guests as their cousin Emily McCorquodale marries". Telegraph. Retrieved 27 May 2013. 
  6. ^ a b "Diana’s beloved niece Emily McCorquodale finds love after cancer scare". Telegraph. 23 November 2011. Retrieved 14 August 2015. 
  7. ^ "Prince Charles and his relationships". The Telegraph. 10 November 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2015. 
  8. ^ "Charles 'amazed' by Lady Di's yes". The Guardian. 25 February 1981. Retrieved 14 August 2015. 
  9. ^ The London Gazette: no. 59011. p. 4924. 19 March 2009. Retrieved 23 March 2009.
  10. ^ a b c Walker, Tim (19 March 2010). "Lady Sarah McCorquodale, sister of Diana, Princess of Wales, becomes a master of the hunt". Daily Telegraph. 
  11. ^ a b "Lady Sarah McCorquodale can look forward to having some free time". Daily Express. 14 October 2012. Retrieved 14 August 2015. 
  12. ^ "Was the £100m Diana Fund a disaster?". Daily Express. 21 July 2011. Retrieved 14 August 2015. 
  13. ^ Richard Alleyne (20 July 2011). "Princess Diana's memorial fund to wind up". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 September 2012. 
  14. ^ a b c "I took Lady Sarah for lunch and spoiled her chances of marrying Prince Charles". The Mirror. 20 February 2011. Retrieved 14 August 2015. 
  15. ^ "Yvonne's Royalty Home Page: Diana, Princess of Wales' Ladies-in-Waiting". Uniserve. Retrieved 27 May 2013. 
  16. ^ a b c d "The evidence of Lady Sarah McCorquodale". The Daily Telegraph. 25 October 2002. Retrieved 14 August 2015. 
  17. ^ "Royals pay tribute to Diana in secret". The Daily Express. 3 September 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2015. 

External links[edit]

  • Lady Sarah McCorquodale picture Lady Sarah McCorquodale leaving the high court at her sisters (Diana, Princess of Wales) inquest.
  • picture The Princess Royal and Lady Sarah McCorquodale during the prize giving ceremony at Burghley Horse Trials.