Princess Diana | Vincent Amalvy/AFP/Getty Images
The years Princess Diana spent married to Prince Charles behind the palace walls have been well-documented, but not much about her earlier years is known. Since Diana’s tragic death, most of the Spencers have chosen to live their lives out of the spotlight so there is a sense of mystery and public interest around the princess’ family.
A 2018 documentary went into detail about Diana’s childhood and touched on something many people never knew about. The film titled Royal House of Windsor pointed to her mother Frances Shand Kydd’s decision to give Diana and her siblings up as a contributing factor to the unhappy and eventual end of the princess’ marriage to Charles.
Here’s more about Diana’s mother and why she gave her children up.
Who was Frances Shand Kydd?
Diana’s mother was born Frances Ruth Roche in 1936. She was the daughter of a baron who was a close friend of Queen Elizabeth II’s father, King George VI, and her mom was a confidante and lady-in-waiting of the Queen Mother.
In 1954, Frances married John Spencer, Viscount Althorp (later the 8th Earl Spencer) at Westminster Abbey in a ceremony which was attended by many members of the royal family.
The couple had five children together–Lady Sarah, Lady Jane, John Spencer (died within 10 hours of his birth), Lady Diana, and Charles Spencer. But their marriage wasn’t anything like a fairytale and Frances ended up leaving her husband to marry her lover, Peter Shand Kydd. This led to an all-out bitter divorce and a heartbreaking decision.
Why she gave up Princess Diana and her siblings
Frances Shand Kydd | Scott Barbour/ Getty Images
With their divorce came a custody battle over the four children and Diana’s mother was forced to give up the kids.
Royal House of Windsor narrator Gwilym Lee spoke about the gut-wrenching decision and what Diana remembered about it.
“A witness to her parents’ acrimonious divorce, she and her siblings were the subjects of a bitter custody battle. As a result, Diana’s mother had to give up her children,” Lee said. “Diana later admitted she had been haunted by the crunch of the gravel as her mother departed.”
How much it affected Diana
Being mostly raised by her father and nannies is something that Lee and others believe really affected Diana in her later years.
“Diana’s neediness stemmed from a troubled childhood,” Lee claimed.
Penny Junor, a royal biographer, dubbed Diana as “damaged” by what had happened.
“She was damaged, mentally, by her experiences. And then moving into the royal family was the worst possible scenario that she could have found for herself,” Junor said.
Royal expert Sally Bedell Smith added, “One of the saddest parts of Diana’s short and turbulent life was the failure of those around her — friends and family alike — to convince her to obtain treatment for her extreme symptoms of mental instability.”
Princess Diana died on August 31, 1997, following a car accident in Paris. At the time of her death, she and her mother were not speaking. Kydd died on June 3, 2004, after a battle with Parkinson’s disease and brain cancer.
Read more: Why Did Princess Margaret Hate Princess Diana and Sarah Ferguson?
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