Charles Spencer shares photo of his mother on death anniversary: Who was Frances Shand Kydd?

Princess Diana shared a troubled relationship with her mother that in many ways set the tone for all the other relationships in her life. Here’s everything we know about her mother and their relationship.

Princess Diana mother Frances Shand Kydd tragic love life divorce children custody and relationship with Diana
© Anwar Hussein/ Getty_Images
Princess Diana mother Frances Shand Kydd tragic love life divorce children custody and relationship with Diana

Princess Diana’s younger brother Charles Spencer - who recently released an emotional memoir about his childhood - shared a glamorous pic of his mother, Frances Shand Kydd on his Instagram. The 9th Earl Spencer used the social media platform to mark the 20th anniversary of his mother’s death.

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Frances Shand Kydd died June 3, 2004, after a series of health battles. The picture of Frances was taken in the ‘60s and Charles addressed her death anniversary. He took to Instagram and captioned the image:

Remembering my mother, who died 20 years ago today, aged 68. She had a wretched final few years, health-wise, and I prefer to think of her in happier times; here, looking rather glam, in the '60s.

Charles may fondly remember his mother now, as he often posts her paintings and photos, but while he was growing up Frances was a cause of trouble not just for him but the entire Spencer family.

Princess Diana’s mother Frances Shand Kydd

Born as Frances Ruth Burke Roche on January 20, 1936, she went on to marry Royal equerry John Spencer. According to People Magazine, John worked as a royal equerry for both King George VI and the young Queen Elizabeth. While she was not born into a Royal Family, Frances was of noble-birth. Her father was Maurice Roche, who was the 4th Baron Fermoy, a noble title in Ireland. He was also good friends with George VI. Frances’ mother served as the lady-in-waiting for the Queen Mother.

At the age of 18, she married Princess Diana’s father - John Spencer,30, then Viscount Althorp. Their wedding was understood to be the ‘social event of the year’ as Queen Elizabeth II attended it along with other British royals, reports Style Caster. Since Frances was only 18 she became the youngest woman to wed in Westminster Abbey. The couple went on to have 5 children: Lady Sarah McCorquodale, Jane Fellowes, John Spencer, Diana Spencer and Charles Spencer. Unfortunately, John Spencer died 10 hours after he was born on January 12, 1960.

Frances Shand Kydd’s complicated love life

Frances and John got separated 13 years after their marriage in 1967. Frances revealed at that time that the couple just ‘drifted apart’ and there was nothing either of them could’ve done. What followed was the utmost chaos for the Spencer family. Frances eventually fell in love with Peter Shand Kydd, the heir to a wallpaper fortune in Australia. She met him at a dinner party a year before her separation from John and claimed that if he had shared a ‘strong marriage’ with John, Peter would have never entered the picture.

Peter was also married to Janet Shand Kydd who labelled Frances as ‘the other woman’ in her divorce from her husband. The two got married on May 2, 1969. In the same year, Frances fought an ugly custody battle with her ex-husband. Her mother Ruth, Lady Fermoy gave evidence against her in court and claimed she was a ‘bad mother,’ reported The Express.

Divorces were unusual in aristocratic circles at that time and Frances’ mother was furious her daughter was leaving her Earl. She became one of the rare cases where the custody of the kids went fully to the father. However, Charles Spencer - who often shares pictures of Diana too - has shared how his mother gave no importance to her children, reports MailOnline. He said:

Our father was a quiet, constant source of love, but our mother wasn't cut out for maternity... she couldn't do it. She was in love with someone else, infatuated really.

Frances and Peter eventually separated in 1988 when Peter left her for another woman 20 years younger than him. After his marriage fell through with the younger woman, he continued to see Frances. Meanwhile, after her marriage fell apart with Peter, Frances found solace in religion. She converted to Catholicism at the age of 58 and devoted her life to the church.

She died at the age of 68 in 2004 in her home from a long battle with Parkinson’s disease and brain cancer.

Frances’ relationship with Princess Diana

Over the years, it has been revealed that Princess Diana shared a troubled relationship with her mother. Diana’s friend Simone Simmons claimed that Frances never knew her daughter and this left a deep impact on her. She said:

She didn’t know Diana, she left the house when she was six. She wasn’t interested in her children.
Her mother walked out and [Diana] never forgot the sound of her mother’s footsteps on the gravel. Her mum said, ‘I’ll be back in a week,’ and she never came back.

Even Charles Spencer remarked that Diana would wait on the doorstep for her mother to return. He said:

While she was packing her stuff to leave, she promised Diana she’d come back to see her. Diana used to wait on the doorstep for her, but she never came.

Simmons alleges that Frances saw Princess Diana as her ‘rival’ and told her during a telephone conversation that she ‘should have been the star.’ Reports of friction between them continued to be a regular part of the media and books published after their deaths. Another source revealed that Diana forever thought her mother ‘didn’t love her enough to want to be with her.’

Richard Kay, an editor and Princess Diana’s friend, believes that this troubled relationship between Diana and her mother ‘cast a shadow’ in her life. He explained:

It cast a shadow over Diana’s entire life [and] framed very much her own marriage, too. So that was a constant feature in the background.

The pair reportedly went from sharing their closest confidences to fighting terribly. Frances claimed that Diana being stripped of the HRH title was ‘absolutely wonderful’ in an exclusive interview with Hello Magazine.

It was then revealed in 2002 that Princess Diana didn't speak to her mother for four months before she tragically died.

Read more:

Charles Spencer: The controversial reason behind the divorces of Princess Diana's brother

Document sold at auction reveals Princess Diana lied about her age to get job when she moved to London

Princess Diana: Royal author reveals Queen Elizabeth knew she wasn't right for Charles

Sources used:

Charles Spencer's Instagram post for his mother

PureWow: Charles Spencer Honors Late Mother on IG—& She Looks So Much Like Her Daughter Princess Diana

People Magazine: Who Were Princess Diana's Parents? All About John Spencer and Frances Shand Kydd

Style Caster: Princess Diana’s Parents Faced Cheating Rumors Just Like Her Marriage With Charles

Express: Royal FEUD: Inside Princess Diana's RIVALRY with her mother

Daily Mail: How Princess Diana's mother was 'not cut out for maternity': Frances Shand Kydd - who died 20 years ago today - left her husband and children for wallpaper tycoon, leading to troubled relationship with her royal daughter

The Independent: Diana did not talk to me in final months, admits her mother

Charles Spencer shares photo of young Princess Diana in a new Instagram post Charles Spencer shares photo of young Princess Diana in a new Instagram post