Princess Diana was delivered a terrible blow when her mother, Frances Roche, decided to leave the family home and divorce her husband Earl Spencer. The young Lady Spencer and her siblings were then dragged into a bitter custody battle that would continue to impact Diana for the rest of her life, according to a new Channel 5 documentary. Glynis Barber, the narrator for ‘Fergie vs Diana: Royal Wives at War’, said: “Both Fergie and Diana’s mothers left their families to be with new partners when they were still young.
“Aged 6, Diana was subjected to a bitter custody battle where her mother was forced to give up her four children.”
Royal commentator Richard Kay, who had a close relationship with Diana, suggested the dramatic departure of Lady Frances would continue to have serious consequences for the rest of her life.
Mr Kay said: “Diana famously was very distraught by the divorce of her parents. She was a very young girl when her mother moved out.
“It probably affected her for most of her adult life.”
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Diana lived with her mother in London as the separation proceedings progressed but she was later banned from returning to her after spending Christmas at her father’s estate, Althorpe.
Years later, the Princess of Wales would describe her parents’ divorce as a “very wishy-washy and painful experience”.
Both Lady Frances and Earl Spencer would later remarry, although the Princess of Wales and her siblings struggled to accept their new step-mother Raine, Countess of Dartmouth, into the family.
Reports have emerged over the years suggesting the Spencer siblings had joined forces to oust their stepmother, going as far as nicknaming her ‘Acid Raine.”
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When Diana married Prince Charles in 1981, Raine was not included in the official family photo.
The relationship would come to thaw in later years when Diana herself went through her divorce from the Prince of Wales in the 1990s.
In one of her last interviews before her death in 2016, Raine claimed she and her step-daughter had become closer and Diana had confided in her.
She said: “Diana had incredibly heavy pressures put upon her, but we ended up huge friends.
“She used to come and sit on my sofa and tell me her troubles.”