The Honourable Frances Ruth Burke Roche was born 20 January 1936 in Park House, Sandringham, Norfolk, England, United Kingdom to Edmund Maurice Burke Roche, 4th Baron Fermoy (1885-1955) and Ruth Sylvia Gill (1908-1993) and died 3 June 2004 Seil, Argyll and Bute, Scotland, United Kingdom of Parkinson's disease and brain tumour. She married Edward John Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer (1924-1992) 1 June 1954 in Westminster Abbey, London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom. She married Peter Shand Kydd (1925-2006) 2 May 1969 .

Frances Shand Kydd (previously Spencer, née Roche) was the mother of Diana, Princess of Wales. Following her divorce from Viscount Althorp in 1969, and later Diana's death in 1997, Shand Kydd devoted the final years of her life to Roman Catholic charity work.


Offspring of Edmund Maurice Burke Roche, 4th Baron Fermoy (1885-1955) and Ruth Sylvia Gill (1908-1993)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Mary Cynthia Burke Roche (1934-) 19 August 1934 Bieldside, Aberdeen, Scotland, United Kingdom Anthony George Berry (1925-1984)
Denis Roche Geoghegan (bef1973-)
Michael Robert Fearon Gunningham (bef1981-)
Frances Ruth Burke Roche (1936-2004) 20 January 1936 Park House, Sandringham, Norfolk, England, United Kingdom 3 June 2004 Seil, Argyll and Bute, Scotland, United Kingdom Edward John Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer (1924-1992)
Peter Shand Kydd (1925-2006)
Edmund James Burke Roche, 5th Baron Fermoy (1939-1984)

Early life

She was born Frances Ruth Roche in Park House, on the royal estate at Sandringham, Norfolk, on 20 January 1936.[1][2] Her father was Maurice Roche, 4th Baron Fermoy, a friend of King George VI and the elder son of the American heiress Frances Ellen Work and her first husband, the 3rd Baron Fermoy.[2] Her mother, Ruth Roche, Baroness Fermoy, was a confidante and lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother).[3] Since birth, she held the style of The Honourable as the daughter of a baron.

Her paternal grandmother, Frances Ellen Work, was an heiress and socialite from New York City. Shand Kydd was a direct descendant of Kitty Forbes (her great-great-grandmother), daughter of Eliza and Theodore Forbes. Her paternal aunt, Cynthia Cary, was a well-known socialite in Rhode Island.

Shand Kydd's Irish aristocratic and royal roots are related to a prince, who was Donal MacCarthy Reagh, 9th Prince of Carbery, but also to James de Barry, 4th Viscount Buttevant, to Murrough O'Brien, 1st Earl of Thomond, and to Gerald FitzGerald, 8th Earl of Kildare through Donal IV O'Donovan who is descended from all these. It also happens that O'Donovan was Edmond Roche, 1st Baron Fermoy's maternal great-great grandfather.[4]


Note: the above table from Wikipedia is included for its compactness, but the tree subpage has more detail and links.

First marriage

On 1 June 1954, she married John Spencer, Viscount Althorp (later the 8th Earl Spencer), at Westminster Abbey.[2] The Queen and other members of the royal family attended the wedding ceremony.[5] She was 18 years old and became the youngest woman wed in Westminster Abbey in the last five decades.[5]


Offspring of Edward John Spencer and Frances Ruth Burke Roche (1936-2004)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Elizabeth Sarah Lavinia Spencer (1955) 19 March 1955 Northampton, Northamptonshire, England, United Kingdom Neil Edmund McCorquodale (1951)
Cynthia Jane Spencer (1957)
John Spencer (1960-1960)
Diana Frances Spencer, Princess of Wales (1961-1997) 1 July 1961 Park House, Sandringham, Norfolk, England, United Kingdom 31 August 1997 Paris, France Charles Philip Arthur George Windsor (1948)
Charles Edward Maurice Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer (1964)


  • Lady Sarah McCorquodale (born 19 March 1955), who married Neil Edmund McCorquodale, a 2nd cousin once removed of Raine, Countess Spencer.
  • Jane Fellowes, Baroness Fellowes (born 11 February 1957), who married Baron Fellowes.
  • The Honourable John Spencer, who died within 10 hours after his birth on 12 January 1960.
  • Diana, Princess of Wales (1 July 1961 – 31 August 1997), first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales.
  • Charles Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer (born 20 May 1964), who married Victoria Lockwood, then Caroline Freud (née Hutton and former wife of Matthew Freud). Charles is now married to his third wife, Karen Spencer, Countess Spencer.

Divorce and remarriage

Ardencaple house

Her marriage to Viscount Althorp was not a happy one and, in 1967, she left him to be with Peter Shand Kydd, an heir to a wallpaper fortune in Australia whom she had met the year before. His half-brother was the former champion amateur jockey William Shand Kydd (1937-2014), who was the brother-in-law of John Bingham, 7th Earl of Lucan.[6] Subsequently, she was named "the other woman" in Janet Shand Kydd's divorce action against her husband.[2]

Frances and Peter Shand Kydd were married on 2 May 1969 and lived on the Scottish island of Seil, where they bought an 18th-century farmhouse called Ardencaple, just 10 kilometres from Oban. She divided her time between London, Seil and another sheep farm in Yass, New South Wales. Although she lived a quiet life, she was forced into public view following the engagement of her daughter Diana to Prince Charles on 24 February 1981.[7]

Later years

On 14 July 1976, the 8th Earl Spencer married Raine, Countess of Dartmouth, daughter of the novelist Dame Barbara Cartland. He eventually won a bitter custody battle over his children.[8] Shand Kydd and her second husband separated in June 1988, after he left her for a younger woman.[3] She blamed the pressure of media attention for the breakdown of the marriage.

In 1996, she was banned from driving after being convicted of drunk-driving, but denied she had a problem with alcohol. She and Diana quarrelled in May 1997, after she told Hello! magazine that Diana was happy to lose her style of "Royal Highness" following her controversial divorce from Prince Charles. She was reportedly not on speaking terms with her daughter by the time of Diana's death.[9][10]

She spent her later years in solitude on Seil.[11] She became a Roman Catholic and devoted herself to Catholic charities.[2] She eventually became involved with the Handicapped Children's Trust, the Royal National Mission for Deep Sea Fishermen, the Mallaig and Northwest Fishermen's Association, and the National Search and Rescue Dogs Association.[3]

Death and burial

Shand Kydd died in a Scottish hospital at the age of 68 on 3 June 2004, following a long illness that included Parkinson's disease and brain cancer.[12] Her funeral at the Roman Catholic cathedral in Oban on 10 June was attended by many of her children and grandchildren, including Princes William (who gave a reading) and Harry.[13][14] Their father, her former son-in-law, Charles, Prince of Wales, did not attend because he was on the way to another funeral—going to Washington to lead the British delegation at the state funeral of the former US President Ronald Reagan the following day. Shand Kydd was buried in the local graveyard on the outskirts of Oban in Argyll.

Titles and styles

  • 20 January 1936 – 1 June 1954: The Honourable Frances Roche
  • 1 June 1954 – 15 April 1969: Viscountess Althorp
  • 15 April 1969 – 2 May 1969: Frances, Viscountess Althorp
  • 2 May 1969 – 3 Jun 2004: The Honourable Frances Shand Kydd

Published biography

In 2004, Maxine Riddington published a biographical book about her, entitled Frances: The Remarkable Story of Princess Diana's Mother.[15]

Footnotes (including sources)

‡ General


  1. ^ England & Wales, Birth Index, Jan–Feb–Mar 1936, 4b 344, Freedbridge Lynn, Norfolk
  2. ^ a b c d e Corby, Tom (4 June 2004). "Frances Shand Kydd". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 May 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c "Frances Shand Kydd". The Telegraph. 4 June 2004. Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
  4. ^ "Colonel Daniel O'Donovan, The O'Donovan". The Peerage. Retrieved 21 July 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "Queen heads lists guests at wedding". The Montreal Gazetta (London). 1 June 1954.,281319&dq=frances+ruth+roche&hl=en. Retrieved 21 July 2013. 
  6. ^ "William Shand Kydd 1937-2014". Peerage News. 
  7. ^ "Princess Diana enters hospital in early labor". Youngstown Vindicator. AP (London). 21 June 1982.,2259663&dq=frances+ruth+roche&hl=en. Retrieved 21 July 2013. 
  8. ^ "Life of luxury stripped sparse by tragedy". Scotsman. 4 June 2004. Retrieved 27 May 2013. 
  9. ^ Milmo, Cahal (25 October 2002). "Diana did not talk to me in final months, admits her mother". The Independent. Retrieved 24 October 2016. 
  10. ^ Farouky, Jumana (14 January 2008). "Diana's Butler Tells Some Secrets". Time.,8599,1703424,00.html. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  11. ^ "Profile: Frances Shand Kydd". The Herald. 26 October 2002. Retrieved 6 July 2013. 
  12. ^ "Princess Diana's mother dies after a long illness". HELLO! magazine (UK). 
  13. ^ Meade, Geoff (4 June 2004). "Princes mourning their grandmother". The Journal. Retrieved 31 May 2013. 
  14. ^ Perry, Simon; Norman, Pete (11 June 2004). "Diana's Mum Laid to Rest, Without Charles". People.,,650151,00.html. Retrieved 1 June 2013. 
  15. ^ "Books". Amazon. Retrieved 11 June 2013. 

External links

Template:Diana, Princess of Wales