Raine Spencer, the stepmother of the late Princess Diana, has died at the age of 87 following a short illness, her family has announced.
Her son William, Legge, the Earl of Dartmouth – an MEP for UKIP – announced the news, saying that his mother died on Friday morning at her London home.
Raine was married to Diana's father John Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer and was his second wife. Relationships were said to be strained between the late Princess and her stepmother, however before Diana died in 1997, the pair were believed to have reconciled.
"Diana was a lovely person," the Countess told The Gentlewoman magazine. "She had incredibly heavy pressures put upon her, but we ended up huge friends. She used to come and sit on my sofa and tell me her troubles. I'm very happy about that."
Countess Spencer passed away in her London home on Friday
Raine 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.
The late aristocrat made her debut in London society when she was 18, in 1947.
She had four children with her first husband Gerald Legge, 9th Earl of Dartmouth. It was during her marriage that she became highly interested in politics and at the age of 23, she became the youngest member of Westminster City Council as a conservative.
She is believed to have reconciled with Diana before the Princess died in 1997
Raine met Earl Spencer, her colleague on an architectural heritage committee, in 1973. Three years later she was divorced from her first husband and went on to marry John in July 1976, when Diana was 15 years old.
Following Lord Spencer's death in 1992, Raine married her third husband Count Jean-François Pineton de Chambrun after a whirlwind courtship in July 1993. Their marriage was short lived and ended two years later.
While the Countess has made few public appearances recently, she famously gave evidence at the London inquest into the death of Princess Diana. "[Diana] always said I had no hidden agenda. So many people, because she was so popular and so world famous, wanted something out of her. It was a very draining life," she said.