Frances Ruth Burke Roche

Female 1936 - 2004  (68 years)


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  • Name Frances Ruth Burke Roche 
    Nickname Shane Kydd 
    Born 20 Jan 1936  Sandringham, Norfolk, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Female 
    Died 03 Jun 2004 
    Person ID I625  King of Scots
    Last Modified 29 Jun 2012 

    Family Edward John Spencer (8th Earl Spencer),   b. 24 Jan 1924,   d. 29 Mar 1992, London, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 68 years) 
    Married 01 Jun 1954  Westminster Abbey, Westminster, London, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Divorced 1969 
    Children 
     1. Elizabeth Sarah Lavinia Spencer,   b. 19 Mar 1955
     2. Cynthia Jane Spencer,   b. 11 Feb 1957
     3. John Spencer,   b. 12 Jan 1960,   d. 12 Jan 1960  (Age 0 years)
    +4. Diana Spencer (Princess of Wales),   b. 01 Jul 1961, Park House, Sandringham, Norfolk, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 31 Aug 1997, Paris, France Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 36 years)
     5. Charles Edward Maurice Spencer (9th Earl Spencer),   b. 20 May 1964
    Last Modified 6 Feb 2009 
    Family ID F262  Group Sheet

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 20 Jan 1936 - Sandringham, Norfolk, England Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 01 Jun 1954 - Westminster Abbey, Westminster, London, England Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Maps 
     = Link to Google Earth 
    Pin Legend  : Address       : Location       : City/Town       : County/Shire       : State/Province       : Country       : Not Set

  • Photos
    Frances Roche
    Frances Roche
    Personal Collection

  • Notes 
    • The Honourable Frances Ruth Burke Roche Shand Kydd (20 January 1936 ? 3 June 2004) was the former wife of John Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer and the mother of Diana, Princess of Wales. After two failed marriages and the deaths of two children, she devoted her later years to Roman Catholic charity work.

      Early life
      Shand Kydd was born Frances Ruth Burke Roche in Park House, on the royal estate at Sandringham, Norfolk. Her father was Edmund Roche, 4th Baron Fermoy, a friend of King George VI and the elder son of the American heiress Frances Work and her first husband, the 3rd Baron Fermoy. Her mother Ruth, Lady Fermoy DCVO was a confidante and lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother).


      Marriage to John Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer
      On 1 June 1954, aged 18, Roche married John Spencer, Viscount Althorp (later the 8th Earl Spencer) at Westminster Abbey. She was then known as Viscountess Althorp (the name is pronounced Altrup).

      The Althorps had five children:

      Elizabeth Sarah Lavinia Spencer (19 March 1955), who married Neil Edmund McCorquodale, a distant cousin of Raine, Countess Spencer
      Cynthia Jane Spencer (11 February 1957), who married Sir Robert Fellowes, later Baron Fellowes
      John Spencer, who died within 10 hours of his birth on 12 January 1960
      Diana Frances Spencer later Diana, Princess of Wales (1 July 1961?31 August 1997), first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales
      Charles Edward Maurice Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer (20 May 1964), who married Victoria Lockwood, then Caroline Freud (the latter formerly wife of Matthew Freud)
      The British media made comparisons between Lady Althorp's and Diana's lives, because both were inexperienced young women who were thrust into the spotlight by marriage to much older men in higher stations. As with the marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales, the marriage between Lord and Lady Althorp was not a happy one. Diana, Princess of Wales strongly resembled her mother in appearance and character, as well.[citation needed]

      In 1967, Lady Althorp ran off with Peter Shand Kydd, an heir to a wallpaper fortune, whom she had met the year before. Subsequently, she was named "the other woman" in Janet Shand Kydd's divorce action against her husband. The Althorps were divorced in April 1969, and Lady Althorp was now known as The Hon. Frances, Viscountess Althorp.


      Personal life after divorce
      In 1976, Lord Althorp married Raine, Countess of Dartmouth, the daughter of novelist Barbara Cartland. (Deeply unpopular with her stepchildren, she was nicknamed "Acid Raine".) He eventually won a bitter custody battle over the children. Lady Althorp married Shand Kydd on 2 May 1969, and she was known as The Honourable Mrs. Shand Kydd. They lived on the remote Scottish island of Seil. Much against her wishes, she was forced into public view following the marriage of Diana to the Prince of Wales in 1981.

      The Shand Kydds separated in June 1988 after he left his wife for a younger woman, and were later divorced. Frances Shand Kydd blamed the pressure of media attention for the breakdown of the marriage. She was well respected on the island and was known for taking long walks and for her love of fishing. Peter Shand Kydd died in 2006.

      In 1996 Shand Kydd 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 title of "Her Royal Highness" following her divorce from the Prince of Wales. They were reportedly not on speaking terms at the time of Diana's death.[citation needed]


      Diana's death
      Main article: Death of Diana, Princess of Wales
      In the wake of Diana's death, she made a point of visiting the family of Henri Paul, the driver of the Mercedes which Diana and her companion Dodi Al-Fayed were in when it crashed in a Paris tunnel, killing all three of them. In her eulogy, she stated, "Strange though it may seem, my daughter's funeral was probably the proudest day of my life. Proud of her, proud of my elder daughters who were rock steady in their readings, and my only son who gave the ultimate tribute of brotherly love for her."


      Aftermath
      In 2002, she testified at the trial of Diana's former butler Paul Burrell, where she was forced to admit that she and Diana had been estranged for several months before Diana's death. She spent her later years in solitude on Seil. She converted to Roman Catholicism and devoted herself to Catholic charities.


      Death
      She died on 3 June 2004 following a long illness that included Parkinson's disease and brain cancer, aged 68. This was the anniversary of the birth of King George V, a curious coincidence given that she was born on the very day that George V died. (George V was the great-grandfather of her one-time son-in-law Prince Charles.)


      Funeral
      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. Their father, her former son-in-law, Prince Charles, did not attend because he was en route to another funeral - going to Washington to lead the British delegation at the funeral of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan the following day.


      Titles from birth to death
      The Honourable Frances Burke Roche (1936?1954)
      Viscountess Althorp (1954?1969)
      The Hon. Frances, Viscountess Althorp (1969)
      The Honourable Mrs. Shand Kydd (1969?2004)

      See also
      Diana, Princess of Wales, Frances Shand Kydd's daughter
      Maxine Riddington, author of the biography 'Frances'
    • Born Frances Ruth Burke Roche
      20 January 1936(1936-01-20)
      Park House, Sandringham, Norfolk
      Died 3 June 2004 (aged 68)
      Seil, Argyll and Bute
      Cause of death Parkinson's disease
      brain cancer
      Nationality British
      Title The Honourable Frances Ruth Burke Shand Kydd
      Spouse(s) Edward John Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer (1954-1969)
      Peter Shand Kydd (1969-1990)
      Children Elizabeth Sarah Lavinia Spencer (b.1955)
      Cynthia Jane Spencer (b.1957)
      John Spencer (1960)
      Diana Frances Spencer (1961-1997)
      Charles Edward Maurice Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer (b.1964)
      Parents Edmund Roche, 4th Baron Fermoy (1885-1955)
      Ruth, Lady Fermoy (1908-1993)


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