AN EARL’S DAUGHTER
Diana Frances Spencer was not royal by birth. She was born on 1 July
1961 at Park House on the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk. She was the
third daughter of the future viscount Althorp and Frances Ruth, who was
one of The Queen Mother’s ladies-in-waiting.
Diana had two elder sisters, Sarah and Jane, and a younger brother,
Charles; there was also a brother called John, born in 1960, who
survived only ten hours.
Diana spent her early children’s years in Sandringham, where she had
home education. Her first teacher was Gertrude Allen, who taught Diana’s
mother. Life at Park House was orderly, traditional and aristocratic.
The Spencer children saw their parents only for an hour in the morning
and at tea time. When Diana was just six years old her parents separated
and later divorced, the children remaining with their father.
Diana continued her education in Sulfide, in private school near the
Kings Lynn, then in preparatory Ridlsuort School. When Diana was 12
years old, she went to the privileged school for the girls in West
Heath, county Kent.
Her life changed a lot in 1975 when Viscount Althorp becoming 8th Earl
Spencer, and Diana becoming Lady Diana, and they moved to the stately
home at Althorp in Northamtonshire. The following year Earl Spencer
married Raine, Countess of Dartmouth, whose mother was the romantic
novelist, Barbara Cartland. Diana went to a finishing school in
Switzerland, where she studied domestic science, typing and
correspondence, and found plenty of time to enjoy skiing.
LADY DIANA SPENCER
When Diana returned to Britain from Switzerland she lived in London,
sharing apartment with old school friends. She moved naturally in the
society that was described by someone as ‘Sloane Rangers’, so called
because much of their leisure time was spend in the fashionable shops
and restaurants around Sloane Square. Diana became a nanny to a number
of children, and took a three-month cookery course, before joining the
Young England Kindergarten as a helper. She enjoyed the social whirl,
attending parties in the evenings and going to the country every
weekend. Diana would stay with friends, or occasionally go back to
Althorp where she would visit her sister Jane, and her husband Sir
Robert Fellows, at their house on the estate.
Most of Diana’s circle of friends came from similar backgrounds, and
when her relationship with The Prince of Wales began they automatically
provided her protection. Once the media suspected Lady Diana and Prince
Charles’ new romance, press reporters and cameramen pursued her
relentlessly. They besieged her flat at Coleherne Court and followed her
everywhere. It was a very testing time for the young Diana.
Diana learned to keep her head down, literally, becoming known as ‘Shy
Di’. So the highly intensive media attention which was to continue
throughout her life began. But ones the engagement was official, Diana
moved into an apartment in Clarence House, home of the late Queen
Mother, where she would be under the protection of the Royal Press
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