Raine Spencer, stepmother of Diana, Princess of Wales, died today at age 87 after a short illness, his family said.
Countess Spencer died Friday morning at his London home, his son William Legge, Earl of Dartmouth the UKIP MEP and confirmed.
In a brief statement to the family said: ‘Raine, Countess Spencer, died peacefully at his home in London on October 21, 2016, after a brief illness.’
Socialite Earl Spencer, Diana’s father, met when he was a young conservative council where she was known for its huge bouffant, pearls, scarves and large shades. They married in 1976 and remained together until his death in 1992.
As Countess Spencer she was notoriously unpopular with her stepdaughter, Diana, Princess of Wales although personal letters between the two which were leaked in 2012 appear to show a softer side to their relationship.
In 2007 Countess Spencer gave evidence at the London inquest into the death of the Princess of Wales.
Countess Spencer, born in 1929, was the only daughter of Alexander McCorquodale and the noted novelist Dame Barbara Cartland.
Through her three marriages she was known as the Comtesse Jean-François Pineton de Chambrun, Lady Dartmouth and Lady Lewisham.
In 1947 an 18-year-old Raine McCorquodale was launched as a debutante into London high society.
She had a successful season where she was named ‘Deb of the Year’ and prompty became engaged to the heir of an earldom, the Hon. Gerald Humphry Legge.
She and Legge married on July 21 1948 and he became the 9th Earl of Dartmouth in 1962. The couple had four children.
Following her marriage, Lady Dartmouth began to take a strong interest in politics and at 23 she became the youngest member of Westminster City Council as a Conservative.
As Lady Lewisham, and later Lady Dartmouth, she remained in local government for 17 years and sat on Westminster’s town planning, parks and personnel committees.
In 2012 private correspondence between Countess Spencer and Diana reignited the debate as to whether Camilla Parker Bowles cast a shadow over her life even before Diana’s engagement.
Auctioneers planned to sell the two handwritten missives, sent by Diana to Raine weeks before Charles proposed – but a a furious Countess Spencer demanded to know the provenance of the letters.
She said she was ‘appalled’ and ‘astonished’ at the sale.
But the letters threw fresh light on the sometimes turbulent relationship she enjoyed with her stepdaughter.
The letters were described as being warm and affectionate and far removed from the ‘Acid Raine’ nickname Diana’s siblings used to describe their stepmother.
During Diana’s inquest, held in London in 2007, Countess Spencer said her stepdaughter was ‘madly in love’ with Dodi Fayed and was probably about to marry him.
She told the inquest on the couple that it was ‘highly likely’ they would have become engaged and married – or at least started living together.
Countess Spencer was also a member of the board of directors of Harrods, and was known to occasionally work in the store.