Princess Diana was the daughter of an Earl and she has three siblings – Lady Jane Fellowes, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, and Charles, Earl Spencer – all of whom are expected to be at the wedding of her son, Prince Harry, to American actress Meghan Markle.
The tragic ending of the princess will be on many people’s minds as Harry takes Markle for his wife on May 19, 2018. Diana’s sister Lady Jane is expected to give a reading at the service. Charles and Sarah will also attend, according to a statement released by Kensington Palace. Both of Diana’s parents are deceased.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Lady Sarah Was Once Considered a Potential Bride for Prince Charles & Was the Only Person Diana Trusted
If things had gone differently, we might have been talking about Princess Sarah, not Princess Diana. Diana’s sister was once considered a possible wife for Prince Charles, who knew the Spencer family because they have an earldom and a place in the British aristocracy. Charles and Sarah briefly dated in the 1970s until she famously remarked that she wouldn’t marry Charles “if he were the dustman or the King of England.”
Lady Sarah is 63 and the eldest of the four Spencer children. According to The Sun, she is married to Neil Edmund McCorquodale, with whom she has three children named Emily, Celia, and George. People Magazine reports that William and Harry are close to their cousins and that Diana considered Sarah, her lady-in-waiting, among the only people she trusted.
She has remained involved in public life and her sister’s legacy over the years. “Lady Sarah lives in Grantham, Linconshire, where she served a one-year term as High Sheriff of Linconshire in 2009,” The Sun reported. “She was also president if the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, which raised £100 million for various charities.”
2. Lady Jane Will Give a Reading at the Wedding as She Did at Diana’s Funeral
Kensington Palace released a statement that underscored how important it is to Prince Harry to have his mother’s family at his wedding, and the statement specifically mentioned Lady Jane Fellows.
“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,” it reads. “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.”
Jane was also selected to give a reading at Princess Diana’s funeral. She chose a poem by Henry Van Dyke Jr.
3. Many Remember the Passionate Speech Earl Spencer Gave at Diana’s Funeral
Many remember the fiery, moving speech that Earl Spencer gave at the funeral of his sister. To some, it seemed directed at the Royal Family as they sat right there. According to Vogue, Charles Spencer is today the 9th Earl Spencer, as well as an author and journalist. “Born Charles Edward Maurice Spencer, the Earl calls Queen Elizabeth II his godmother and has seven children from his marriages to Victoria Lockwood, Caroline Freud and Karen Villeneuve,” Vogue reported.
Charles said, “Diana was the very essence of compassion, of duty, of style, of beauty. All over the world she was a symbol of selfless humanity. All over the world, a standard bearer for the rights of the truly downtrodden, a very British girl who transcended nationality. Someone with a natural nobility who was classless and who proved in the last year that she needed no royal title to continue to generate her particular brand of magic.”
He continued, “She would want us today to pledge ourselves to protecting her beloved boys William and Harry from a similar fate and I do this here Diana on your behalf. We will not allow them to suffer the anguish that used regularly to drive you to tearful despair.” You can read the full text here.
After the funeral, Harry remained close to his mother’s family.
“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.”
Diana was a bridesmaid in Lady Jane’s wedding and she was a bridesmaid in Diana’s, Good Housekeeping reports, noting that Lady Jane and her husband were credited with helping along the match between Diana and Charles when they invited “the young couple to join them at the Balmoral, the royal’s Scottish holiday home, in the summer of 1980.” However, Lady Sarah once said, according to The Sun: “I introduced them, I’m cupid.”
4. Princess Diana Made Sure That Her Two Sons Were Cared For
When the Princess of Wales died so suddenly in a traffic crash in Paris, she made sure that her two sons, Princes William and Harry, would be well cared for, bequeathing them both millions of dollars. Princess Diana’s estate is believed to have been about $28 million. Her sons received equal portions of her estate when they turned 30-years-old (Prince Harry is 33 and William is 35.)
That means both princes each received about $14 million from their mother. According to Esquire, Harry “started receiving annual dividends from investments when he turned 25, valued at $450,000 a year” from Diana’s estate. Some estimates put the amount each prince received at $13 million.
The Queen Mother also left Harry an inheritance when she died, but it’s not clear exactly how much. The Royal Family is very private about its finances.
Harry and Williams also inherited their mother’s jewelry collection together.
It fell on Lady Jane to tell her brother and sister the shocking news that Diana had died in a car crash in Paris. Both Sarah and Charles revealed that information during a BBC documentary.
According to Town and Country Magazine, “Lady Jane’s husband Robert Fellowes was Private Secretary to the Queen from 1990 to 1999. This influential job involved being the main channel of communication between the monarch and government, as well as overseeing the Queen’s program and correspondence.” It’s been speculated, although never confirmed, that this caused tension between Diana and Jane as Diana’s marriage to Charles ruptured in spectacular fashion.
Lady Jane and Robert Fellowes have three children together, Laura Jane, Alexander Robert and Eleanor Ruth. Because of her husband’s position, Lady Jane’s family lived at Kensington Palace, which is where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will live after their wedding.
5. Diana’s Parents Were Divorced & Her Mother Led a Troubled Life
Diana’s mother was Frances Shand Kydd, who died in 2004 at the age of 68. Diana’s mother led a life full of trauma. According to the Scotsman, she lost an infant son shortly after his birth, was convicted of driving drunk, left her husband for another man only to see the new relationship fall apart, and ended up with terminal brain disease.
Frances married Edward “Johnnie” Spencer, Viscount Althorp, in 1954. He was Diana’s father, and he later became Earl Spencer. “The Spencer marriage ended in divorce in 1969, after she left Althorp to start a new life in Scotland with Peter Shand Kydd, a wallpaper tycoon with whom she had been having an affair,” reported The Scotsman. “Unusually at the time, Earl Spencer won custody of their children. Diana was only eight and felt her mother’s absence sorely, especially when her father remarried.”
Toward the end of her life, reported The Guardian, Frances became a “Roman Catholic convert who devoted her life to charity work among her co-religionists in Argyll, a close-knit community.” Frances was born close to royalty. “Her father was the fourth Baron Fermoy, a shooting friend of George VI. Her mother, Ruth, was a woman of the bedchamber and confidante of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother,” Guardian reported.
She and Diana were on bad terms when the princess died because her mother had given an interview about her, but, Guardian reports, Frances was devastated by her daughter’s death.
As for Diana’s father? “He was a member of the House of Lords, married Raine, Countess of Dartmouth in 1976 after his divorce from Diana’s mother and passed away aged 87 on October 21, 2016,” Vogue reports.