Frances Shand Kydd, mother of Diana, dies at 68

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The Independent Online

Frances Shand Kydd, the mother of Diana, Princess of Wales, died yesterday on her remote Scottish island retreat.

The 68-year-old reclusive grandmother of Princes William and Harry had been ill for some time and was frail after being treated in hospital in April. Mrs Shand Kydd died at her home on Seil, near Oban, with just her friend, the Roman Catholic priest Canon Donald MacKay, by her side.

A statement from Althorp House, home of her son, Earl Spencer, said yesterday afternoon: "I can confirm that Lord Spencer's mother passed away peacefully this morning after suffering from a long illness, and this is now a private time for the family to grieve."

It was a quiet end to a life led reluctantly in the public spotlight which had been marked by scandal, tragedy and grief. She married the heir to the Althorp estate, Edward John "Johnnie" Spencer, in 1954 - the eligible bachelor who became the eighth Earl Spencer.

Their wedding at Westminster Abbey was attended by more than 1,500 guests, including the Queen. The couple had five children, including John, who died 10 hours after being born, but the marriage ended in 1969 when she ran off with the wallpaper tycoon, Peter Shand Kydd.

In the ensuing custody battle for her children, even her mother, a lady-in-waiting to the Queen Mother, sided with the earl. The Shand Kydds moved to Scotland but in 1988, she was again left heartbroken when Peter Shand Kydd left her for a younger woman.