Home>News Center>Life

Princess Diana's mother dead at 67
Updated: 2004-06-04 08:57

Princess Diana's mother, Frances Shand Kydd, who died Thursday aged 67 after a long illness, faced tragedy and difficulty throughout her life.

Shand Kydd had been suffering from a long illness.

She endured the death of not just one, but two of her children -- famously, Diana in a car crash in Paris, but also a baby son who died hours after he was born.

The woman who, after Diana's marriage to the Prince of Wales looked set to be the mother of Britain's next Queen, was also twice divorced -- first leaving her husband for a married man and then being deserted herself.

In the months leading up to the Princess's death, the pair were tragically not on speaking terms.

When Diana died, the staunch Catholic turned to her faith for solace when forced to grieve in the glare of a media frenzy as millions mourned the Princess.

Frances Ruth Burke Roche, daughter of the Fourth Baron Fermoy, was born the second of three children on the day George V died. She came into the aristocratic world of the royal Sandringham Estate in Norfolk in Park House, in the same room where Diana was also born.

Her mother, Lady Ruth Fermoy, was a confidante and lady in waiting to the late Queen Mother, and was later said to have had a hand in promoting Diana's marriage to Charles.

Shand Kydd married Edward John Spencer, 12 years her senior, in 1954 at Westminster Abbey. They had three daughters -- Diana was the youngest -- and one son.

Marriage split

The marriage foundered in 1967 when she fell in love with Peter Shand Kydd, a married wallpaper heir, and the couple divorced in 1969. Shand Kydd remarried in 1969 when the future princess was aged 6.

Diana and her mother were rarely close, despite this 1993 picture.
Diana stayed with her father after the split and decades later she told Andrew Morton, author of the 1992 book, "Diana, Her True Story" that her childhood was very unhappy and unstable.

"The biggest disruption was when Mummy decided to leg it. That's the vivid memory we have -- the four of us (including her brother and two sisters)... People took sides. Various people didn't speak to each other. For my brother and I it was a very wish-washy and painful experience," Diana was quoted as saying.

Shand Kydd acknowledged she sometimes had a turbulent relationship with her famous daughter.

Testifying two years ago at the theft trial of Diana's former butler, Paul Burrell, Shand Kydd said she had not spoken to Diana in the last four months of her life and that the princess had returned her letters unopened.

Shand Kydd agreed with a statement by Burrell's lawyer, Lord Carlile, that Diana, "like many of us, could sometimes be a little tempestuous."

Diana and her companion, Dodi Fayed, were killed on August 31, 1997, in a crash in a Paris tunnel as their Mercedes was pursued by paparazzi.

In an interview with the U.S. Fox TV channel in 1998, Shand Kydd said she had mingled with the public outside the princess's Kensington Palace home during the outpouring of grief over Diana's death.

"With literally thousands of people comforting, sharing, we were sharing a very deep hurt," said Shand Kydd. "But I think far too little has been said about what people all over the world gave to her. They nourished her, they made her smile, they gave her strength."

Lack of privacy

Shand Kydd said she was frustrated by her inability to shield her daughter from the intrusions on her privacy.

Shand Kydd was dogged by illness in her later years.
"I wanted privacy for her, very often, when she wasn't working," she said. "But it wasn't to be."

Shand Kydd also complained of the press intrusion in her own life, blaming it for the failure of her second marriage.

"The media descended here 16 years ago and have never left me since," Shand Kydd was quoted as saying in a 1997 interview with The Mail on Sunday newspaper from her home in Scotland. "I've now accepted they never will."

"I think the pressure of it all was overwhelming and finally impossible for Peter" Shand Kydd, who left her in 1988 after 19 years of marriage, she said.

In her unhappiness over her marriage to Prince Charles, Diana credited her mother as setting an example of coping.

"I've got what my mother's got. However bloody you're feeling you can put on the most amazing show of happiness. My mother is an expert on that," Diana was quoted as saying.

Shand Kydd is survived by her son Earl Spencer and daughters Lady Jane Fellowes and Lady Sarah McQuorquodale. Her stepson, Adam Shand Kydd, 49, died from an overdose of sleeping pills in Cambodia in April.

  Today's Top News     Top Life News

EPA: Handling pollution vital to China's progress



China seeks non-proliferation group status



Bush: CIA director George Tenet resigns



Taiwan spies to serve prison terms



Water price hikes expected in Beijing



Southern alliance rises on the Pearl


  Princess Diana's mother dead at 67
  Lei Feng as a cartoon
  Chang Xiangyu lives on in Hua Mulan's story
  Festival spans wider range of films
  Michael Jackson won't face charges in Los Angeles
  Heart of boy gets royal funeral in France
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  Related Stories  
Diana: I was married in sale-or-return basis
Britons upset by showing of Diana photos
UK press outraged at dying Diana photos
US TV to show photos of Diana at crash scene
CBS to show photos of Diana at crash scene
BBC slammed for rap claiming royals killed Diana
Princess Diana exhibit debuts in US
  Beckham signs Gillette deal