As if Princess Diana’s life wasn’t tragic enough, Cheat Sheet is reporting that even after her death, her family did not follow her wishes that she laid out in her will. For a woman whose life in many ways took a turn for the worse when she married a prince, one would hope that at least, in death, her desires would be recognized and respected, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Diana named her mother, Frances Ruth Shand Kydd, and sister, Lady Elizabeth Sarah Lavinia McCorquodale, as executors of her will, and they did not distribute the contents of her estate according to her directions in her will. Here’s what happened.
By now most people know the story of the girl who met a prince and married him at the young age of 20. They had two handsome sons and named them William and Harry. Diana adored her sons, but her husband’s heart belonged to another, and their marriage fell apart. They divorced in August, 1996. In August, 1997, she died in a car crash in France at the age of 36. What began as a fairy tale ended in sorrow and an early death.
Princess Diana was worth about $31.5 million when she passed. Comprising that dollar figure were investments, about $25 million she received in her divorce settlement, and some personal items, like jewelry and dresses. She had a will drawn up four years before she died and made some changes to it after her divorce became final.
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In her will, Diana left the equivalent of roughly $82,000 to her butler, 75 percent of her jewelry and other possessions to her sons, and her remaining belongings to her 17 godchildren. She also set up a Discretionary Fund for William and Harry, their spouses, and their descendants. The “residuary estate” was to be split equally between William and Harry and held for them until they turned 25.
The December after Princess Diana’s death, her mother and sister obtained a “secret variation order” from the High Court of Justice that changed the age at which her sons would receive the residuary estate to 30. They also amended the will in a manner that gave each of Diana’s godchildren only one item from her estate without informing either the godchildren or their parents (most of the godchildren were minors at the time of her death). This reportedly denied each of them of about $160,000 in assets. The executors of her estate were able to make these changes because of language in Diana’s will that included words like “discretion” and “wishes” that allowed them to do as they saw fit, whether that aligned with Diana’s wishes or not.
Neither the Spencer family (Diana’s family) nor anyone in the royal family, including Princes William and Harry, have commented on why Princess Diana’s mother and sister chose not to follow her wishes.