Noblemen including Diana's father Earl Spencer dies aged 87 after a short illness
- Raine, Countess Spencer and the stepmother of Diana, Princess of Wales, has died today aged 87
- She was the only daughter of Alexander McCorquodale and the noted novelist Dame Barbara Cartland
- A socialite, she married three times and became a Conservative politician when she was just 23
- She had a notoriously turbulent relationship with her stepdaughter but pair became much closer later
Countess Spencer died on Friday morning at her London home, her son William Legge, the Earl of Dartmouth and a Ukip MEP, confirmed.
In a short statement the family said: 'Raine, Countess Spencer, died peacefully at her home in London on 21st October, 2016, after a short illness.'
The socialite met Earl Spencer, Diana's father, when she was a young Conservative councillor where she was known for her enormous bouffant hair, pearls, scarves and grand tones. They married in 1976 and remained together until his death in 1992.
Raine Spencer, the stepmother of Diana, Princess of Wales, has died today aged 87 after a short illness, her family has said
The socialite met Earl Spencer, Diana's father, when she was a young Conservative councillor where she was known for her enormous bouffant hair, pearls, scarves and grand tones. She is pictured above leaving Claridge's Hotel in London in 1996
Earl and Countess Spencer at Althorp House. They were married until his death in 1992 - it was her second marriage
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.
Countess Spencer, born in 1929, was the only daughter of Alexander McCorquodale and the noted novelist Dame Barbara Cartland (She is pictured as a baby with her author mother at Althorp House in the Daventry District of Northamptonshire)
Countess Spencer, born in 1929, was the only daughter of Alexander McCorquodale and the noted novelist Dame Barbara Cartland (Raine is pictured in 1953, left, and in 1962, right while showing off a new, cropped hairstyle)
The wedding of Raine Spencer and Gerald Legge, Earl of Dartmouth, at St Margaret's Church, Westminster, London, July 21st 1948. It was the first of her three marriages. She divorced him in 1976, before remarrying her second husband the same year
RAINE, COUNTESS SPENCER'S HUSBANDS
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.
Raine Legge, as she was then known, is pictured above in 1957 during her marriage to the Earl of Dartmouth
Left, in 1954 Raine, Countess Spencer, spring cleans her China collection, and right, in 1958 while enjoying a cup of tea
Raine, Comtesse de Chambrun, is pictured dancing with councillor D.W. Bromfield of Finsbury in an undated photo
Countess Spencer, pictured left, smiles with her mother, the author Barbara Cartland (right) at a function in 1971
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.
Earl Edward Spencer and Countess Raine Spencer - her second husband - on holiday together in Athens, Greece, in June 1989
Earl Spencer and his wife Raine, who died today, are pictured outside their home of Althorp House in Northamptonshire
Raine Spencer married a French count just 33 days after they met. Count Jean-Francois de Chambrun was six years younger than his bride-to-be, whom he wed in London in 1993. He was her third husband but they divorced just two years later in 1995
Raine, Countess Spencer, and her new husband Comte Jean-francois De Chambrun, are seen leaving their wedding in 1993
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.
Countess Spencer arriving for the inquest into the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in 2007, where she gave evidence