Lady Jane Fellowes was born Cynthia Jane Spencer in 1957. She is the older sister of the late Princess Diana.
Fellowes, who has gone by her middle name since she was young, became a baroness in 1999 when her husband, Robert Fellowes, was named Baron Fellowes, of Shotesham in the County of Norfolk, by way of a life peerage.
Fellowes has three children and four grandchildren.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. She Did a Reading at Prince Harry & Meghan Markle’s Wedding
A little over a week before the royal wedding, Kensington Palace announced that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle asked Lady Jane Fellowes to do a reading during their wedding ceremony. According to The Telegraph, Fellowes was representing Harry’s late mother, Princess Diana.
“In addition to having the support of The Queen, his father The Prince of Wales, and his brother Prince William as Best Man, Prince Harry is also keen to involve his mother’s family in his wedding. All three siblings of Diana, Princess of Wales will be in attendance and Lady Jane Fellowes will give the reading. Prince Harry and Ms. Markle both feel honoured that Lady Jane will be representing her family and helping to celebrate the memory of the late Princess on the wedding day,” Kensington Palace said in a statement ahead of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s May 19 wedding.
Prince Harry is close to his mother’s side of the family and has kept in contact with the Spencers since he was young.
“Harry has always kept in close touch with the Spencers and they have all received invitations,” a source told Vanity Fair. “Harry gets on well with his aunts and uncle and they have met Meghan. His cousins all have the golden ticket—an invite to the ceremony and reception and the evening party,” the source added.
Lady Fellowes attended the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, but she did not participate in the ceremony.
2. She Married Robert Fellowes on April 20, 1978 & They Have 3 Children Together
Fellowes married her husband, Robert, on April 20, 1978, at the Guards Chapel. Jane Fellowes’ younger sister, the late Princess Diana, served as a bridesmaid in the wedding.
At the time of their wedding, Robert was an Assistant Private Secretary to the Queen. He went on to serve as Private Secretary to Queen Elizabeth II from 1990 through 1999. He is currently the Chairman of Barclays Private Banking.
The Fellowes have three children together. Their daughter, Laura Jane Fellowes, was born on July 19, 1980. She married Nick Pettman on in 2009 and is a mom of two boys. Laura is a godmother to Princess Charlotte, daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Their son, Alexander Robert Fellowes, was born on March 23, 1983. He married Alexandra Finlay in 2013, and they are proud parents to two children, Robert George Fellowes and Rose Jane Fellowes.
The youngest Fellowes child, Eleanor Ruth, was born on August 20, 1985. She is not married and does not have any children.
3. She Was the First Family Member to Learn of Princess Diana’s Death
Jane Fellowes was the first Spencer sibling to be told of her sister, Princess Diana’s, death. It was Fellowes who told the Spencer family about her sister’s tragic passing. She also phoned the royal family to tell them the devastating news.
Shortly after Diana’s death, Jane Fellowes and her older sister, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, traveled to Paris, France, along with Diana’s ex-husband, Prince Charles, to retrieve their younger sister’s body.
At Princess Diana’s funeral, Fellowes read a poem by Henry Van Dyke Jr. You can read it below.
Time is too slow for those who wait,
Too swift for those who fear,
Too long for those who grieve,
Too short for those who rejoice,
But for those who love, time is Eternity.
You can hear Fellowes reciting the poem in the video below.
Fellowes has never spoken out about the night that her sister was killed. When her siblings took part in a BBC documentary about Princess Diana, Fellowes chose not to participate, according to Hello Magazine.
4. She Currently Works For ‘Only Connect,’ a Charity That Prince Harry Is Also Involved With
These days, Lady Fellowes is a trustee of the charity Only Connect, a philanthropy effort that is very near and dear to Prince Harry. His brother, the Duke of Cambridge, and sister-in-law, the Duchess of Cambridge, have also been involved over the years.
“The focus of our work is innovation to reduce re-offending. We work with Londoners aged 16+ with recent experience of the justice system, equipping them with the necessary skills, attributes and positive networks to develop and pursue their life goals without harm. We work in prisons, across youth justice and through our unique Membership centers to deliver projects that build relationships, grow skills and cut crime. Our Membership model offers one single, seamless relationship from custody to community and into future prospects,” reads the “About Me” section on the charity’s official website.
Lady Fellowes has been involved with the charity’s projects for several years. In fact, one of the only times that she has spoken publicly was about the charity in an interview that took place back in 2013.
“We have recently seen research which shows that OC has a significant impact on crime in London. It has more than halved expected rates of re-offending. I am more than proud to be part of OC’s work,” Fellowes told The Lady Magazine, according to The Telegraph.
5. She Has 2 Other Siblings & There Have Been Reports That Her Relationship With Diana Was Strained for Years
There are two other siblings in the Spencer family (a fourth sibling, John, died a few hours after he was born).
Lady Sarah McCorquodale was six years older than Diana. After Diana’s death, Sarah became the president of the Diana, Princess of Wales, Memorial Fund. According to PopSugar, the charity “raised more than $128 million over 15 years for various charities around the world before it was folded into new charity The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry in 2012.”
Charles Spencer is the youngest Spencer. He worked for NBC News for several years and has published several books. Additionally, he founded the Althorp Literary Festival. He has four children with his first wife, Victoria Lockwood, and two children with his second wife, Caroline Freud. The two split in 2007 and Charles married Karen Gordon a couple of weeks later. The two are parents to daughter Charlotte, who was born in 2012.
Although Jane and Diana were very close over the years, there have been reports that their relationship was strained, especially in the months before Diana’s death.
“Fellowes’s own ties to the royal family fractured her relationship with Diana. Her husband was promoted to the Queen’s private secretary in 1990, and as her marriage to Charles crumbled and then came to an end, Fellowes was stuck between her sister and her husband’s loyalty to the royal establishment. It is reported that they barely spoke in Diana’s last 18 months of life,” People Magazine reports.
Despite their rumored strained relationship, Lady Fellowes and her siblings are very close to Diana’s children and have maintained relationships with both William and Harry.