Princess Diana's family tree: Everything we know about the Princess' parents and siblings

Princess Diana joined the Royal Family when she married Prince Charles in 1981. However, she was already an aristocrat by birth. Let's learn more about her parents and her siblings, including a brother she's never met.

Princess Diana family parents siblings brother
© Terry Fincher / Getty Images
Princess Diana family parents siblings brother

Princess Diana's life was cut short at the age of 36, but she left her mark on the world. While the Royal Family was criticised for not speaking publicly about her death in the few days that followed, her brother Charles Spencer never fails to pay tribute to his sister, even twenty-seven years after her tragic car accident. Today, we are focusing on her family, and especially on a brother she never got to meet. Here's what you need to know.

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Princess Diana's parents and siblings

Diana Spencer was born on 1st July 1961. Her parents, Edward John Spencer (known as John Spencer) and Frances Shand Kydd, got married in 1954, and they got divorced fifteen years later, when Diana was six years old. John and Frances welcomed five children together: three daughters and two sons. Frances Shand Kydd was only eighteen years old when she got married. The couple exchanged their vows at Westminster Abbey. According to the BBC, Queen Elizabeth II was a guest at their wedding.

The couple welcomed their first child together one year after their wedding. They had a daughter, named Elizabeth Sarah Lavinia (known as Sarah). Two years later, they had another daughter, named Cynthia Jane (known as Jane).

In 1960, they had son they named John. The next year, they welcomed Diana Frances, who would later become Princess Diana. John and Frances Spencer had their last child together in 1964, a son called Charles, the heir to the estate and the Earl's title.

What happened to her older brother, John Spencer?

In 1960, John and Frances Spencer had their first son, John, who sadly passed away only hours after he was born. The family almost never spoke about him, according to Earl Charles Spencer, Princess Diana's younger brother. In 2022, he revealed that he had overseen a project to pay tribute to his brother, John, and to his sister, Diana. The family's youngest child shared a heartfelt picture on his Instagram account, showing a restoration of John's gravestone, to commemorate his short life.

The gravestone was in dire need of a restoration, as the Spencers' coat of arms and the message were hardly legible. However, Charles Spencer made it his duty to pay tribute to his brother by looking after his place of rest. Now, the headstone clearly reads:

In loving memory of John Spencer, son of Viscount and Viscountess Althorp, born and died January 12 1960.

The Earl also explained that although he never knew his older brother, he remains an important part of the family's history.

Princess Diana's father was close to the Royal family

John Spencer worked as an equerry for King George VI, Queen Elizabeth's father. He knew her from a very early age, and remained close to her as she took the throne upon her father's death in 1952. Earl John Spencer and his family lived in a home owned by the Royal Family, Park House, where Princess Diana was born. The family left Park House in the mid-1970s and they moved to Althorp Estate, in Northamptonshire. This estate became the official family home and it is now owned by Earl Charles Spencer. Princess Diana loved the family home, and her remains are buried on the grounds, on an island dedicated to her.

Princess Diana's parents divorced when she was six

Earl John Spencer and Frances Shand Kydd got a divorce when young Diana was six years old. According to The Washington Post, Frances was in love with another man. She told the Telegraph in 1967:

We just drifted apart, and there was nothing either of us could do about it.

They eventually got a divorce in 1969, and Diana's father was awarded full custody of the couple's four living children. The two eldest daughters, Sarah and Jane, were attending boarding school, while Diana and her younger brother Charles lived at home with their father. Diana's mother, Frances, married Peter Shand Kydd in 1969, right after her divorce, and they eventually parted ways in 1990. In 2020, Earl Charles Spencer told The Sunday Times:

Diana and I had two older sisters who were away at school, so she and I were very much in it together and I did talk to her about it.
Our father was a quiet and constant source of love, but our mother wasn't cut out for maternity. Not her fault, she couldn't do it. She was in love with someone else — infatuated, really.
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.

Princess Diana had a complicated relationship with her father

Although she grew up close to her father, Princess Diana held some resentment for the head of the family for years. In 1976, Earl John Spencer got married to Raine McCorquodale, without telling his children beforehand. This event made Princess Diana incredibly upset, to the point where she actually got physically violent against her father. She told the Daily Mail:

I was the little crusader here ... and I got really angry and I, if I remember rightly, I slapped him across the face, and I said, 'That's from all of us, for hurting us' and walked out and slammed the door.

Despite their complicated relationship, the two seems to have made up before Princess Diana's wedding to Prince Charles in 1981, as her father walked her down the aisle. John Spencer explained:

There are times I wish she was marrying an ordinary chap, so I could have her and my son-in-law living here with me in the park.

Read more:

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

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

Charles Spencer: Princess Diana’s brother to be divorced for the third time

Sources used:

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

BBC: The Life of Diana, Princess of Wales

People: Charles Spencer on Childhood Trauma Alongside Sister Princess Diana: 'We Were In It Together'

The Mirror: Princess Diana's tragic brother is remembered as her family pay tribute to his short life

The Washington Post: Frances Shand Kydd

The Telegraph: Frances Shand Kydd

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