Childhood

The Honorable Diana Frances Spencer was born on July 1, 1961, in Park House on the Queen’s estate at Sandringham, the third daughter of Johnnie, only son of the seventh Earl Spencer and Frances, his wife. Frances was the younger daughter of Lord and Lady Fermoy, neighbors at Sandringham and friends of the former King George V1 and the late Queen Mother. It was on the death of Lord Fermoy that Diana’s parents moved to Park House, which was to become her early childhood home.

Until 1970, Diana was a pupil at Silfield Nursery School at King’s Lynn, Norfolk, when she went to a girls preparatory school, Riddlesworth Hall, Diss, Norfolk.

In 1969, Diana’s parents were divorced, her father keeping custody of the children. In 1975, when Diana was 13, the seventh Earl died and Diana’s father succeeded to the title, moving to the family’s ancestral home, Althorp.

Diana moved from Riddlesworth Hall to another girl’s school, West Heath, near Sevenoaks, in Kent, England. Earl Spencer was a governor at the school and during her time there Diana began to excel at games.

In January 1978 she attended a term at a finishing school in Switzerland, Institute Alpin Videmanette. Miserably homesick, she left and returned to England to work as a nanny, first for Alexandra, the daughter of Major and Mrs. Whitaker in Hampshire and then for Patrick Robinson, the young son of an American family.

In the autumn of 1978, she completed Mrs. Russell’s cooking course in Wimbledon and the following year her mother bought her a flat in Coleherne Court, South Kensington, which she shared with a group of close friends. Diana began her life as a single, independent young woman. She earned money cleaning for her sister and friends and in April 1979, started working as an assistant at the Young England Kindergarten, in Pimlico. She continued to work there until her engagement was announced in February 1981.