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Fiona Shackleton – everything you need to know about the top divorce lawyer

The Baroness has represented the likes of Prince Charles and Paul McCartney in court

fiona shackleton
Gemma Strong
Gemma StrongOnline Digital News Director
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Baroness Fiona Shackleton, of the law firm Payne Hicks Beach, is one of Britain's most prominent divorce lawyers. She has represented the likes of Sir Paul McCartney, Prince Charles and Prince Andrew, and is also the solicitor to both Prince William and Prince Harry. Following the news she is now set to represent billionaire heiress Petra Ecclestone in her divorce from James Stunt, we take a look at the lady known as the 'Steel Magnolia'…

Baroness Shackleton might have represented some incredibly famous faces in court, but she prides herself on her absolute discretion. She is held in the highest regard amongst her peers, with her reputation hinging on her technical skills and her imagination. "She has outstanding judgement and flair, and she cuts to the chase," one fellow lawyer previously remarked.


prince charles diana divorce© Photo: Getty Images

Fiona Shackleton represented Prince Charles in his divorce from Princess Diana

Perhaps her highest-profile case came in 1996 when she represented Prince Charles in his divorce from Princess Diana. It was the late Lord Goodman, a British lawyer and political advisor, who recommended Mrs Shackleton to the Prince of Wales after being impressed by the way she conducted Prince Andrew's potentially messy separation from Sarah Ferguson. Charles and Diana's divorce was finalised on 28 August 1996. Diana received a lump sum settlement of £17million, as well as an additional £400,000 a year. It was considered to be a fair deal, although Fiona successfully argued for Diana to surrender her title of Her Royal Highness – just as Sarah Ferguson had had to do.

Baroness Shackleton found herself in the spotlight once again in 2008 when she represented Paul McCartney in his divorce from Heather Mills – she famously emerged from court with damp hair after a run-in with Heather and a jug of water. In the end Heather received 'just' £24.3m of Sir Paul's £400m fortune. Her other celebrity clients include Rick Stein, David Walliams and Liam Gallagher.

fiona shackleton paul mccartney© Photo: Getty Images

She famously emerged from court with wet hair after a run-in with Paul McCartney's ex-wife Heather Mills

Fiona is the daughter of Bank of England adviser and Sheriff of the City of London, Jonathan Charkham, and Moira Salmon. Through her mother's family – who were co-owners of the J. Lyons & Co – she is a cousin to celebrity chef Nigella Lawson and her brother Dominic Lawson. Fiona was educated at Benenden School in Kent, before heading to university, where she initially hoped to be pursue a career in medicine. She eventually left Exeter University having only secured a third-class degree in law. After leaving higher education, she trained as a cordon bleu chef but quickly decided to take up law full-time in the early 1980s.

fiona shackleton husband© Photo: Getty Images

Baroness Shackleton pictured with her husband Ian

She joined Farrer & Co, the Queen's solicitors in 1984, and quickly progressed; within two years she was a partner, before becoming the firm's leading family lawyer. She is now a partner at leading law firm Payne Hicks Beach, and is also the author of The Divorce Handbook. Fiona continues to be the solicitor to TRHs Princes William and Harry and was appointed to the rank of LVO in the 2006 New Year's honours list. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Exeter in July 2010 and in December 2010 was made a life peer.

Fiona is married to financial PR consultant Ian Shackleton – a descendent of Sir Ernest Shackleton, the Antarctic explorer – and together they have two daughters.

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