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John Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer

The Earl Spencer

John Spencer, Viscount Althorp in 1967.jpg
Earl Spencer
Preceded byAlbert Spencer
Succeeded byCharles Spencer
Personal details
Edward John Spencer

(1924-01-24)24 January 1924
Bayswater, Paddington, London, England
Died29 March 1992(1992-03-29) (aged 68)
London, England
Frances Roche
(m. 1954; div. 1969)

ParentsAlbert Spencer, 7th Earl Spencer
Lady Cynthia Hamilton
EducationEton College
Royal Military College, Sandhurst
Royal Agricultural College
Known forFather of Diana, Princess of Wales

Edward John Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer, MVO (24 January 1924 – 29 March 1992), styled Viscount Althorp until June 1975, was a British peer and nobleman. He was the father of Diana, Princess of Wales, which makes him the maternal grandfather of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, respectively second and sixth in the line of succession to the British throne.

Early life, education and military career

Lord Spencer was born Edward John Spencer, Viscount Althorp, the only son and younger child of Albert Spencer, 7th Earl Spencer, on 24 January 1924.[1] He was educated at Eton, the Royal Military College at Sandhurst, and the Royal Agricultural College. Popularly known to his family and friends as Johnnie Althorp, he served as a Captain in the Royal Scots Greys from 1944 to 1945, and was Mentioned in Despatches. From 1947 to 1950, he served as Aide-de-Camp to His Excellency Lieutenant-General Sir Willoughby Norrie, then Governor of South Australia.[2]

Spencer held the offices of County Councillor for Northamptonshire (1952), High Sheriff of Northamptonshire (1959) and Justice of the Peace for Norfolk (1970).[2] He served as Equerry to King George VI (1950–52) and to Queen Elizabeth II (1952–54),[3] and was invested as a member of the Royal Victorian Order (MVO) in 1954.[2] He was known by the courtesy title Viscount Althorp until 1975 when he became the 8th Earl Spencer upon his father's death.[4] He was Member of the House of Lords from 9 June 1975 (the day his father died and he inherited the peerage) until his own death.

Family life

On 1 June 1954 Spencer and Frances Ruth Roche, the younger daughter of the 4th Baron Fermoy, were married in Westminster Abbey by Percy Herbert, Bishop of Norwich. Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the royal family attended the wedding ceremony.[5] They had five children:

John and Frances Spencer divorced in 1969. Frances later married Peter Shand Kydd and in 1976, Lord Spencer later married Raine, Countess of Dartmouth, the former wife of the 9th Earl of Dartmouth, and the daughter and only child of the romantic novelist Barbara Cartland and Alexander McCorquodale.

In 1978, Spencer suffered a severe stroke,[1] from which, at one stage, he was not expected to recover, and which kept him in hospital for eight months. He died of a heart attack on 29 March 1992, and was succeeded by his son Charles, the brother of Diana, Princess of Wales.[6]

Coat of arms

Coat of arms of John Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer
Coronet of a British Earl.svg
Spencer Arms.svg
A Coronet of an Earl
Out of a Ducal Coronet Or a Griffin's Head Azure gorged with a Bar Gemelle Gules between two Wings expanded of the second
Quarterly Argent and Gules in the 2nd and 3rd quarters a Fret Or over all on a Bend Sable three Escallops of the first
Dexter: A Griffin per fess Ermine and Erminois gorged with a Collar Sable the edges flory-counterflory and chained of the last and on the Collar three Escallops Argent; Sinister: A Wyvern Erect on his tail Ermine similarly collared and chained
Dieu Defend Le Droit (God defend the right)


  1. ^ a b "The 8th Earl Spencer, 68, Dies; Father of the Princess of Wales". The New York Times. 30 March 1992. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
  2. ^ a b c "Person Page 100 earl daniel spencer was his great great grand father 89: Edward John Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer". The Peerage.
  3. ^ "Diana, Princess of Wales biography". The official website of the British Monarchy. Archived from the original on 25 May 2014. Earl Spencer was Equerry to George VI from 1950 to 1952, and to The Queen from 1952 to 1954.
  4. ^ "Princess Diana: The Earl's daughter, born to life of privilege". CNN. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
  5. ^ "Queen heads lists guests at wedding". The Montreal Gazette. London. 1 June 1954. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  6. ^ "Edward John Spencer; Earl Was Princess Diana's Father". Times Wire Services. London. 30 March 1992. Retrieved 29 May 2013 – via Los Angeles Times.

External links

Honorary titles
Preceded by
Sir Gyles Isham, Bt
High Sheriff of Northamptonshire
Succeeded by
Evelyn Fanshawe
Peerage of Great Britain
Preceded by
Albert Spencer
Earl Spencer
9 June 1975 – 29 March 1992
Succeeded by
Charles Spencer