Raine Spencer, Countess Spencer
|Raine, Countess Spencer|
9 September 1929
|Died||21 October 2016
London, England, UK
|Occupation||Socialite and politician|
|Spouse(s)||Gerald Legge, 9th Earl of Dartmouth
(m. 1947; div. 1976)
John Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer
(m. 1976; d. 1992)
Comte Jean-François Pineton de Chambrun
(m. 1993; div. 1995)
|Children||William Legge, 10th Earl of Dartmouth
Charlotte Paternó Castello, Duchess of Carcaci
Dame Barbara Cartland
Raine, Countess Spencer (née McCorquodale; 9 September 1929 – 21 October 2016) was a British socialite and local politician. Formerly known, by prior marriages, as the Comtesse Jean-François Pineton de Chambrun, Lady Dartmouth and Lady Lewisham, she was the daughter of Alexander McCorquodale and the romantic novelist and socialite Dame Barbara Cartland.
Her taste was frequently questioned and her relationship with her stepchildren much discussed. As Countess Spencer, Raine was unpopular with her stepdaughter, Diana, Princess of Wales. Her three marriages, at varying times, accorded her five titles: the Honourable Mrs. Gerald Legge, Viscountess Lewisham, Countess of Dartmouth, Countess Spencer and Comtesse de Chambrun.
Raine McCorquodale was the only child of novelist Dame Barbara Cartland and Alexander McCorquodale, an Army officer who was heir to a printing fortune. Her parents divorced in 1936 and her mother promptly married Alexander McCorquodale's cousin, Hugh McCorquodale, by whom she had two sons, Ian and Glen McCorquodale.
Countess of Dartmouth
In 1947, 18-year-old Raine McCorquodale was launched as a debutante into London high society. She had a successful season, not only being named "Deb of the Year," but becoming engaged to be married to the heir of an earldom, the Hon. Gerald Humphry Legge. She and Legge married on 21 July 1948. He succeeded to the courtesy title Viscount Lewisham in 1958 and became the 9th Earl of Dartmouth in 1962. The couple had four children:
- William Legge, 10th Earl of Dartmouth, born on 23 September 1949
- Hon. Rupert Legge, born on 1 January 1953. He married Victoria S. Ottley; the couple have two children, Edward Peregrine Legge (b 1986) and Claudia Rose Legge (b 1989.)
- Lady Charlotte, born on 16 July 1963. She married Don Alessandro Paternò Castello, 13th Duke of Carcaci.
- Hon. Henry Legge, born on 28 December 1968. He married Cressida Hogg, the youngest daughter of businessman Sir Christopher Hogg.
Following her marriage, Lady Dartmouth began to take a strong interest in politics. At age 23, she became the youngest member of Westminster City Council as a Conservative. As Lady Lewisham, and later Lady Dartmouth, she remained in local government for the following 17 years. She sat on Westminster's town planning, parks and personnel committees, and was later elected to represent Richmond on the Greater London Council. In this capacity she took a special interest in environmental planning and ancient buildings. She chaired the Covent Garden Development Committee and the government working party for the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm.
Lord Althorp succeeded his father as the 8th Earl Spencer on 9 June 1975. Lord Spencer and Lady Dartmouth were married at Caxton Hall, London, on 14 July 1976. As Countess Spencer, Raine was unpopular with her stepdaughter Lady Diana Spencer and her siblings, who even went as far as referring to their stepmother as "Acid Raine". However, media reports have suggested that at the time of her death, Diana was reconciled with her stepmother, while her relationship with her mother Frances Shand Kydd, had been strained; Diana and her mother had not communicated at all for several months before Diana died.
In 1978, Lord Spencer suffered a brain haemorrhage; his wife nursed him, and his recovery is credited to her care and devotion coupled with the use of an untested drug. Following her husband's illness, Lady Spencer was widely criticised by the press and conservationists for her redecoration of Althorp, the Spencer family seat; it was felt that the heavy use of new gilding and wallpapers failed to compensate for the missing treasures, which included besides properties and land, works by Sir Anthony Van Dyck and Thomas Gainsborough, furniture, china, porcelain, silver, gold, and family documents sold to fund the project and necessary restoration of the house.
The Earl fully endorsed and assisted in his wife's alteration to Althorp and fund-raising activities. However, this was not enough to stop Earl Spencer's son and heir, Charles Viscount Althorp (later the ninth and Present Earl) from describing his stepmother's taste in decoration as having "the wedding cake vulgarity of a five-star hotel in Monaco."
Lord and Lady Spencer led an opulent lifestyle, entertaining frequently and generously, and travelling greatly. In February 1981, they became globally known following the engagement of Lady Spencer's stepdaughter Diana to Charles, Prince of Wales.
When Lord Spencer died on 29 March 1992, the dowager Countess immediately left Althorp, as she and her stepson had a poor relationship. The abrupt move from Althorp was, however, cushioned by a £4 million inheritance and a townhouse in London's Mayfair from her husband.
Comtesse de Chambrun
In July 1993 Raine Spencer married a third husband, Count Jean-François Pineton de Chambrun (a descendant of the Marquis de La Fayette and a member of a prominent French family related to the American Roosevelt family), after a 33-day courtship. They married in a civil ceremony in London.
The Count, a younger son of Jean-Pierre Pineton de Chambrun, Marquis de Chambrun (a deaf biochemist-artist), was previously married to an American, Josalee Douglas. The Countess again attracted charges of vulgarity in Britain when it was discovered that pictures of the wedding had been sold to Hello magazine for a reputed £70,000. Her mother did not attend the wedding ceremony. It was at this time that, while none of her Spencer stepchildren attended this wedding, it was claimed that there was a rapprochement between her and the Princess of Wales.
The de Chambruns' marriage was short-lived and the couple were divorced in 1995. Styled since the marriage as Comtesse Jean-François Pineton de Chambrun, Raine chose to revert to her previous surname and style of Raine, Countess Spencer, despite this being against convention.
In December 2007, Spencer was again featured in the news, giving evidence at the London inquest into the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Making a rare public comment on her relationship with her stepdaughter, she said: "[Diana] always said I had no hidden agenda. So many people, because she was so popular and so world famous, wanted something out of her. It was a very draining life." Later she told the court, "Well, we all want the dark handsome gentleman to walk through the door."
Latterly, Spencer was a member of the board of directors of Harrods, and occasionally worked in the store, although as she told the inquest "Ironically, I never went shopping in Harrods. It was my husband [Earl Spencer] who practically lived there." Her principal home was in Mayfair, London, where she remained a regular part of the London social scene.
Her death at age 87, following a short illness, was announced by her family on 21 October 2016.
Titles and styles
- 1929–1947: Miss Raine McCorquodale
- 1947–1958: The Honourable Mrs Gerald Legge
- 1958–1962: Viscountess Lewisham
- 1962–1976: The Right Honourable Countess of Dartmouth
- 1976: Raine, Countess of Dartmouth
- 1976–1992: The Right Honourable Countess Spencer
- 1992-93: The Right Honourable Dowager Countess Spencer
- 1993–95: Comtesse de Chambrun
- 1995–2016: Raine, Countess Spencer
- Vickers, Hugo (14 May 2009). "Spencer, (Edward) John". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
- "Raine, Countess Spencer: obituary". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
- "Raine Spencer: Friend not foe". The Independent. London. 15 December 2007.
- "Di's stepmother marries French count". Point Pleasant Register. London. Associated Press. 9 July 1993. Retrieved 16 August 2013 – via Google News.
- "Diana's Final Heartbreak: Fame & Scandal". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 11 November 2008.
- Kelley, Kitty. The Royals.[full citation needed] (The reliability of Kelley's book has been questioned).
- Brown, Tina. The Diana Chronicles.[full citation needed]
- "Jean Pierre Pineton, marquis, dies at 101". Enquirer. Retrieved 11 November 2008.
- Burke's Peerage and Baronetage. vol 2 (106th ed.). Crans, Switzerland: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd. 1999. p. 2674.
- Bone, Victoria (13 December 2007). "Diana's stepmother captivates inquest". BBC News. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
- "Princess Diana's stepmother dies at 87". BBC News. 21 October 2016. Retrieved 21 October 2016.