Frances Shand Kydd abandoned her daughter when she needed her the most.
The later Princess Diana had a very rocky relationship with her mother Frances Shand Kydd right from the start. While Kydd was known for her philanthropic and humane efforts towards bereaved families and needy children, she did leave her daughter when she was only eight years old, according to The Scotsman.
Kydd reportedly led a chameleon-like life, which was marred by regret and sadness like her daughter's. Frances Ruth Burke Roche was only 19 when her family married her off to an older man, Edward "Johnnie" Spencer, during an event that was unofficially titled wedding of the year in 1954.
Following her marriage to the Viscount Althorp, she gave birth to her first son, John, who tragically passed away within 11 hours of being welcomed into the world. The young mistress of Althorp had now found herself in a challenging position as she was trying to survive the news of her baby's premature death and the family's pressure to produce a male heir.
Eventually, Kydd divorced Althorp in 1969 and left to begin a new life in Scotland with Peter Shand Kydd with whom she was having an affair. Meanwhile, Earl Spencer had won the custody of his children, and Diana, who was just 8 at the time, was left feeling her mother's absence. This was especially felt after her father remarried.
Kydd was all set to start her new life with her beau after turning her back on the aristocracy. But the man she had left everything for ended up deserting her for a younger woman and Kydd blamed her youngest daughter for it, reports Goalcast. "I think the pressure of it all was overwhelming and finally, impossible for Peter. They didn’t want him. They wanted me. I became Diana’s mum, and not his wife," she said, adding that the media began bombarding her as Diana was engaged to Prince Charles at the time.
Now that she was vilified for abandoning her own family, Kydd became a virtual recluse while continuing her charity work. Diana, who suffered from eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia, blamed the trauma of her parents' separation for the problems she had later in life.
"My parents were busy sorting themselves out. I remember my mother crying," she told biographer Andrew Morton. "Daddy never spoke to us about it. We could never ask questions. Too many nannies. The whole thing was very unstable." Although Kydd did reconnect with her daughter Diana, the two were not on talking terms in the months that led up to the Princess's death.
Diana's eventful love life was reportedly the cause behind a feud between the two towards the end. The relationship shared by the two was fraught with complications, especially because both were remarkably alike. Despite having a prickly relationship, they both have the burning desire to have things happen their own way, no matter the cost. Yet Diana refused to speak to her mother four months before she died as Kydd was critical of her choice of lovers.
This wasn't all, Diana's mother managed to infuriate her further after manipulating the media and selling her story to Hello! magazine in an effort to raise funds for her church. Maybe that's why the late Princess described her mother as "tempestuous" and even returned unopened letters from her. Their conflict deepened in 1997 as Diana vowed to cut off all communication with her mother and remained true to her word until she passed away in Paris. Kydd was left with an argument that she would never be able to settle with her daughter.
Diana’s former butler Paul Burrell revealed that Diana's mother immediately regretted treating her daughter badly when the news of her death surfaced. "Her mother had to live with that guilt after Diana’s death… for the rest of her life," he told Mirror. Although the Princess had a falling out with her mother, she did not remove her name from the will. It was a gesture that showed that she indeed understood how seriously her mother took the role of grandmother to Prince William and Harry. After Diana's death, Kydd began looking at life from a new perspective.
Even though she was condemned for leaving her family and labeled as a bad mother earlier, during her later years, she lived a life of peace and self-forgiveness and honored her daughter's legacy through charity work. According to The Guardian, she raised money for pilgrimages, supported mothers who lost their children and even worked on projects that involved handicapped children. She passed away on June 3, 2004.
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