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Scandal: Lady Diana Spencer's Son

BritFlorida loves to track down historical stories, especially scandals and mysteries from the UK.

The scandal of Lady Diana Spencer's son.

The scandal of Lady Diana Spencer's son.

Diana's son: More scandalous than his mother

Lady Diana Spencer's life was scandalous enough but what many people don't know is that her son superseded her tenfold when it came to a scandalous life. Some will say that this was inevitable and mainly the fault of his upbringing but I'm not convinced that this was the case.

Of course, it was a strange childhood, there's no doubt about that. Diana was trapped in an unhappy marriage with a husband whose affairs were well known, at least in the society circles in which they moved.

She did her duty and provided her husband with two male heirs so who could blame her if she then decided to stray? Her husband's affairs were no secret, after all.

When she took a lover, it was really of no surprise to anyone who knew the truth about the marriage but to me, that doesn't excuse the behaviour of her eldest son when he grew to adulthood.

Here we have a story of a baker's dozen of illegitimate children, a bigamous marriage and even incest. Wow.

Images are copyright free from Wikimedia Commons. The chart below was created by me using Wikimedia images.

Family tree

scandal-lady-diana-spencers-son

It is rather confusing so the best way to explain about the people I am referring to is with the chart that you can see above.

When Diana married, she had two sons, the eldest being George St John. Rather scandalously, she had further children by her then lover whilst still married. However, she married her lover after a messy divorce and they had a total of four children.

One of these was Mary Beauclerk

scandal-lady-diana-spencers-son

George's marriage

In 1783 George was twenty one. He married Charlotte Collins, the daughter of a respectable man of the cloth. They had three children and seemingly, there was no indication of the scandal that was to ensue (although Charlotte might have known otherwise!)

Just a few years of possible wedded bliss came to an end in 1787.

George's half-sister, Mary Beauclerk, paid a visit to the young family but she was a less-than-perfect houseguest as she embarked upon a relationship with her host, her half-brother George.

As children, the two sets of offspring didn't have a great deal of contact. George and Mary soon made up for this by enjoying the most intimate of contact on a regular basis.

Note that the image you see here is NOT Mary. It is simply here to illustrate the story. Ditto the images below.

scandal-lady-diana-spencers-son

An inevitable result

Mary was soon pregnant with her half-brother's child.

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I can't possibly imagine how George managed it - he must have had considerable charm - but he persuaded his wife that she should accompany Mary to Paris. There, he explained, the child could be born in secret avoiding any scandal.

So silver-tongued was he that he even persuaded Charlotte that they should pass the child off as their own. I don't know about you but I would have kicked him right in the dangly bits and told him exactly what he could do with his idea but Charlotte agreed to the deception. It worked but not for long.

Mary became pregnant again almost immediately. Once again, a visit to Paris was in order.

Mary too must have had considerable charms. Either that or George realised that popping over to Paris on a regular basis wasn't practical. (I also hope that by now Charlotte was getting rather tired of taking on her husband's illegitimate offspring.)

George crossed the Channel again to France but this time, he abandoned Charlotte and her legitimate children and took with him Mary and her two sons.

Read about British scandals

Mary should have known better

George and Mary had a further two sons whilst living in Paris under an assumed name. The way that George had deserted his wife and children should have been something of a wakeup call though.

George's roving eye had spotted a member of the Belgian aristocracy, the somewhat wonderfully-named Isabella Hompesch. She was seventeen years old.

Leaving Charlotte and her children had been easy enough so it was the work of a moment to abandon his half-sister and mistress, Mary, and her four children and took off with Isabella.

George brought his charm to bear again and convinced Isabella to marry him. His wife Charlotte was still alive back in England so of course, the marriage was invalid.

scandal-lady-diana-spencers-son

Isabella

The bigamous marriage took place in secret and it's said that George threw some of Isabella's clothing into a river in an attempt to fake her death. He also intercepted any letters she wrote to her family.

Essentially, Isabella has disappeared from her home country and to enhance this, George took her to England. Another series of illegitimate children began, the first being born in London.

However, things must have been becoming pretty hot as George decided that they should move to live in a remote spot in Wales. This too became unsafe so they booked a passage to America.

In 1804, the real Mrs St John, Charlotte, died and George was now free to marry Isabella, the mother of his growing brood.

Where history disappoints us though is that there is no record of how George achieved this. After all, as far as Isabella was concerned, she was already married to him. But George employed what must have been enormous charm and eventually, the couple were legally married. They had even more children, this time, legitimate. Now they were free to return to England.

George seemed to have met his match in Isabella. It's said that at last, he became a doting husband and father. About time, I reckon.

Further reading

You might also like:

  • Prince William: His Secret Mistress
    Undeniably handsome, charming and sporty, Prince William could have chosen almost any girl in the world. But the eligible prince's true love was a woman he could never marry. Find out more.
  • A Queen of Hearts in a House of Cards
    When the prince chose a young woman to be his bride and the mother of his children, he thought he'd made a good choice but he was wrong. Who is this article about? Read on.
  • Scandal: Lady Diana Spencer's Illegitimate Baby
    Lady Diana Spencer was trapped in an unhappy marriage. So it's hardly surprising that she looked for love elsewhere. But she had an illegitimate baby that she had to conceal...

© 2014 Jackie Jackson

Comments

K.O. on May 03, 2020:

You can fool some of the people some of the time, but not all the people all the time~! This sounds like a banquet full of bull! Harry looks like his Uncle Charles Spencer! And if you try to feed me a banquet full of bull**** it doesn't mean I have to eat it!

You are making Lady Diana out to be a villainess! Well, she was not! She was a woman trying to fight to keep her family together! I remember every word she said when she went on national TV! There are 3 people in this marriage! And she referred to Camilla as a Rottweiler!

Jackie Jackson (author) from Fort Lauderdale on October 26, 2014:

@Dressage Husband - I don't know about a kick - I think a carving knife might have been more appropriate! I think if I was a member of the Spencer family, I'd avoid calling a daughter Diana nowadays!

Stephen J Parkin from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada on October 26, 2014:

Me thinks young George would have deserved a mighty kick in the dangly bits and then some! Funny that the last Lady Diana Spencer also was a bit of a roving lady! Also after her husbands affair became apparent!

Jackie Jackson (author) from Fort Lauderdale on September 24, 2014:

Thanks so much, Barbara. I'm sure there'll be more :)

Barbara Tremblay Cipak from Toronto, Canada on September 21, 2014:

honest to gawd it's never a dull moment with your stories of UK scandals! Jackie, loved it!

Jackie Jackson (author) from Fort Lauderdale on March 24, 2014:

@ecogranny: Isn't it amazing? It makes me feel very normal :)

Donna Cook on March 24, 2014:

Fabulous as always! I limit myself to one of your lenses a day so as to enjoy them more. I love "dangly bits" although for this cad they were very "naughty bits." I hope that you'll put all these marvelous lenses in an e-book. This is a terrific way to learn English history.

Kathryn Grace from San Francisco on March 23, 2014:

Oh my, people do get up to some nonsense, don't they, whether they are born in the royal bed or the peasant. Thanks for another scintillating bite of history.

Jackie Jackson (author) from Fort Lauderdale on March 23, 2014:

@GeorgeneMBramlage: It seems to be my current speciality :)

Georgene Moizuk Bramlage from southwestern Virginia on March 23, 2014:

What a lovely bit of dirt you've managed to dig up!

Jackie Jackson (author) from Fort Lauderdale on March 23, 2014:

@smine27: It would certainly make a great book, that's for sure!

Shinichi Mine from Tokyo, Japan on March 23, 2014:

What an intriguing story. It certainly sounds as exciting as a Jackie Collins novel! Even more so.

Jackie Jackson (author) from Fort Lauderdale on March 23, 2014:

@flycatcherrr: Charlotte obviously wasn't educated in Yorkshire :)

Jackie Jackson (author) from Fort Lauderdale on March 23, 2014:

@Merrci: I think it was too tricky a relationship to explain without the chart :)

flycatcherrr on March 23, 2014:

Gee, for some reason the phrase "history repeats itself" leaps to mind. Yes, I'd have kicked young George in the particulars, too, charm or no considerable charm!

Merry Citarella from Oregon's Southern Coast on March 23, 2014:

I think you have a lifetime of scandals here. Thank you, BTW for the family tree. I sincerely appreciate it! Very fun and intriguing story.

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