“My title is a lot older than yours, Philip,”
-Princess Diana-” —
Implying that her own family was older and more aristocratic than the House of Windsor, this is an alleged reply by the Princess to Prince Phillip’s warning a year previous her infamous divorce to Prince Charles: “If you don’t behave, my girl, we’ll take your title away.” (According to Tina Brown).
On her father’s side, she was a descendant of King Charles II of England through four illegitimate sons:
- Henry Fitzroy, 1st Duke of Grafton, son by Barbara Villiers, 1st Duchess of Cleveland
- Charles Lennox, 1st Duke of Richmond and Lennox, son by Louise de Kérouaille
- Charles Beauclerk, 1st Duke of St Albans, son by Nell Gwyn
- James Crofts-Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth, leader of the famous Monmouth Rebellion in 1685, son by Lucy Walter
She was also a descendant of King James II of England through an illegitimate daughter, Henrietta FitzJames, by his mistress Arabella Churchill. On her mother’s side, Diana was Irish and Scottish, as well as a descendant of American heiress Frances Work, her mother’s grandmother and namesake, from whom the considerable Roche fortune was derived.
The Spencers began as untitled farmers but eventually became close to the British Royal Family for centuries, rising in royal favour during the 17th century, though Diana’s branch of the family did not receive its earldom until the late 18th century, when John Spencer, 1st Earl Spencer received the title in 1765. Diana’s maternal grandmother, Ruth, Lady Fermoy, was a long-time friend and a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. Her father had served as an equerry to King George VI and to Queen Elizabeth II.