It was so much fun over the weekend looking at the wedding of Emily McCorquodale that we thought we’d dive in and look at another Spencer wedding, that of Princess Diana’s parents Viscount Spencer and The Honourable Frances Ruth Roche in 1954.
Let’s start with the bride. Frances Roche was born at Park House on the Sandringham estate on January 20, 1936. Her parents, Edmund Maurice Roche, Baron Fermoy and Ruth Roche, Baroness Fermoy, rented the house from the Royal family, so they were quite linked to the Royals from early on. It’s a beautiful house, and Viscount Spencer and Frances Roche later took over the lease when they were married, so like her mum, Lady Diana was also born at Park House. Lady Diana and her family lived there until they moved to Althorp when her father succeeded to the Earldom in 1975. For our post on Park House and the Sandringham estate, click here.
The house was not the only link Frances Roche had to the royal family; her mother Baroness Fermoy was also the Queen Mother’s lady in waiting for over thirty years.
The groom, Edward John, Viscount Spencer, was born on January 24, 1924 so he was 12 years older than Frances (this is also the same age gap between Diana and Charles). Like his grandsons William and Harry, he attended Eton College, followed by Sandhurst Military College.
Here he is all dressed up with with his dad, the 7th Earl Spencer:
The Spencers have long been linked to the Royal Family, and he was an equerry to both King George VI from 1950 until his death in 1952 and then filled the same role for the new Queen Elizabeth until 1952. Interestingly, his mother Cynthia Spencer was, like Baroness Fermoy, a lady in waiting to the Queen Mother, so this explains how the Spencers and Fermoys all knew each other!
Here’s a portrait of Cynthia, Princess Diana’s grandmother. You can really see the family resemblance:
The wedding took place on January 1, 1954 and was held at Westminster Abbey in London. The bride was just 17 years old(!) and the groom was 29. It was quite an affair, and attendees included Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, Princess Margaret, and the Queen Mother.
This is a great picture of Frances arriving with her father Baron Fermoy:
Just to compare because it’s fun, here’s a photograph of Kate Middleton about to walk through those very gates fifty-five years later to marry her grandson:
Back to 1954. The Queen was all decked out in furs for the New Year’s Day wedding:
As were the Queen Mother with Princess Margaret. The Queen Mum also had peep-toe shoes on! Go figure:
This is a delightful shot taken outside the Abbey of the new Viscount and Viscountess Althorp. Love seeing the attendants in behind decked out in white:
The couple then headed over to St. James’ Palace for their reception where this wedding portrait of the bride was taken. What an ornately beaded gown, and her tiara and pearls are stunning:
Walking up the stairs at the Palace, as you do:
The bride and groom greeted their guests:
This is a spectacular photograph of the Queen Mother with the attendants at the reception. Queen Elizabeth can be seen to the left and Princess Margaret is over by the door:
To end, here is a shot of the couple all dolled up for a night out. I wish the Spencer tiara had made an appearance for this evening! But, she’s got her pearls on.
As we know, the marriage didn’t work out and was dissolved. The couple separated in 1969. The Earl went on to marry Raine, who is a relation of Lady Sarah’s husband Neil McCorquodale (her maiden name was McCorquodale). Frances went on to marry Peter Shand Kydd.
Let’s end with this nice shot of Lady Diana and Earl Spencer in St. Paul’s Cathedral in 1981: