Battered Lives Syndrome The Legacy of Frances Shand Kydd's marriage

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Frances Shand Kydd's first marriage was to a violent man. Diana, Princess of Wales, followed her mother's pattern in pursuing the fairy tale romance.

Battered Lives Syndrome

The Legacy of Frances Shand Kydd’s Marriage

Recent reports in ‘The Daily Mail’ state that Frances Shand Kydd, mother of Diana, Princess of Wales, was a battered wife in her marriage to Viscount Althorp. Deplorable as it is, this news shouldn’t surprise us.

It shouldn’t surprise us for two reasons. Firstly, domestic violence affects all sectors of society equally. There may well be a typical profile of abusive men, but that has to do with their beliefs about themselves and their attitudes towards women, not the socio-economic group they belong to.

Secondly, the children born into emotionally abusive and violent relationships tend to replicate the patterns of the parent who is their role model. In the case of Diana, that parent was clearly her mother.

Now, this is not intended to suggest in any way that Prince Charles’ behaviour replicates the behaviour of Diana’s father. Given the intense scrutiny to which Prince Charles’ – allegedly – private life has been subjected, and Diana’s own frank criticisms of her husband, any charge that could possibly have been levelled against him, would have been levelled against him.

Quite simply, Frances Shane Kydd’s first marriage served as the blueprint for Diana’s – probably unconscious – understanding of marriage.

Like her mother, Diana naively fell into a ‘fairy tale romance’ and at a very young age, married a man who was considerably older and more worldly than she. Someone, from a yet more distinguished family, who she could look up to, who would confer prestige and glamour on her life as well as protecting her etc. etc.

As the world was to discover, even before the marriage Diana has some doubts about the emotional commitment of her future husband. Yet she went ahead with the marriage. Diana, herself, offered various explanations for this in later years. Perhaps underlying them were other beliefs that she never fully registered. Perhaps the example of her parents had taught her that she really could not expect undivided love and support within marriage.

Similarly, she later spoke, through Andrew Morton, of the bitter arguments in her own marriage. Of the arguments in her parents’ marriage, she said to him: ‘Parents were always busy sorting themselves out. Always seeing my mother crying. Daddy never spoke to us about it.’ Seemingly, her emotional experience mirrored theirs.

Diana’s mother became increasingly isolated, until she started a relationship with Peter Shand Kydd which led to her second marriage. Diana, in her isolation, embarked on a series of unfortunate relationships. Seemingly, the lesson she had learned and kept putting into practice, was that a woman essentially defines herself in terms of her connection with a man.

Diana, in short, learned low self-worth at her mother’s knee. Her family circumstances changed, but the girl who was to star in the fairy tale romance that captured the world’s attention was never going to live ‘happily ever after’. She remained scarred by the fall out from her parents’ abusive marriage. Her ignorance of the damage she had sustained meant that she was doomed to replicate her mother’s pattern of suffering.

Like so many children of domestic violence, Diana simply did not know how to ‘do’ happiness. She learned what she saw so that, even as she pursued the dream, she underlying expectation was that she never would be able to attain long-term happiness with a man.

Annie Kaszina is a writer and Personal Coach who is committed to raising awareness of the reality of domestic violence. She works with survivors of abusive relationships to help them go beyond recovery to self-discovery and has written an eBook for survivors of domestic violence to help them on their way.    You can order her book    subscribe to her newsletter through her website

For further information contact Annie Kaszina at 01708 443435 mobile 07712 924124

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Annie Kaszina