Was Princess Diana Irish and What Famous American Family Was She Related to?

Princess Diana and Prince Charles were married in 1981. Even before joining Britain’s royal family, Diana was part of an aristocratic family. When her father became an earl in 1975, she was given the title Lady Diana Spencer. The princess had many prominent ancestors including Mary, Queen of Scots and King Charles II. But she also had links to Ireland and famous ancestors in the U.S.

Read on to find out about the Princess of Wales‘ Irish roots and which American family she was related to.

Princess Diana in pale green suit at the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London
Princess Diana in pale green suit at the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London | Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

Princess Diana’s Irish roots

Decades after her death, journalist and historian Ryle Dwyer revealed Princess Diana’s hidden Irish connection. He wrote in the Irish Examiner that the princess’s great-grandfather was an MP who represented Killarney. Dwyer noted that James Boothby Burke Roche was selected to run for parliament in East Kerry in 1896 as an anti-Parnellite. He served one term.

“Twenty years later James Burke Roche became the 3rd Lord Fermoy, but he died the following month. He was succeeded by the eldest of his twin sons, Edmund Maurice Roche,” Dwyer stated. “Edmund stood for parliament as a Conservative in an English constituency and duly won a seat in the 1924 general election, and was re-elected at each subsequent general election, until he stood down in 1935. In 1931 he married Ruth Gill, and they had three children.”

The journalist added: “Their daughter Frances married Edward Spencer at Westminster Abbey on June 1, 1954… The fourth of their five children was Diana Spencer.” Dwyer concluded that if Prince William does indeed become king one day, it will mean that one of the monarch’s ancestors on his mother’s side was an Irish MP.

Princess Diana seated in a dark green dress and holding a bouquet of flowers at the headquarters of the London City Ballet
Princess Diana seated in a dark green dress and holding a bouquet of flowers at the headquarters of the London City Ballet | Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images

The Princess of Wales is related to a family of American politicians.

CBS News noted that Diana is a cousin of the 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush. He and the late princess are 11th cousins, twice removed. Prince Charles and Diana visited the Bush family on a number of occasions while they were married when they traveled to the states.

But it’s not just the People’s Princess, Diana’s two daughters-in-law are related to U.S. presidents as well.

RELATED: Who Gave Princess Diana the Name the ‘People’s Princess’?

George W. Bush and Princess Diana.
Left: George W. Bush in Washington, D.C | Pool/Pool, Right: Princess Diana dressed for a gala in 1995. | Pool/Getty Images

Prince William’s wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge is related to the very first President of the United States. According to the New England Historic Genealogical Society, Kate and George Washington are eighth cousins, eight times removed with their common ancestor being Sir William Gascoigne.

In addition to one of the founding fathers, the Duchess of Cambridge has other ties to American historical figures. The NEHGS’ book about Kate’s ancestry noted that she is distant cousins with Francis Scott Key, who wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and explorer Meriwether Lewis, known for leading the Lewis and Clark Expedition with William Clark.

Prince Harry’s bride Meghan, Duchess of Sussex is actually related to quite a few U.S. presidents. After the Sussexes announced their engagement in 2017, researchers at NEHGS discovered Meghan’s ties to several former presidents. The duchess’ distant cousins include Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, Herbert Hoover, Calvin Coolidge, Chester Alan Arthur, and James A. Garfield. 

Meghan’s family links to the presidents are via her father, Thomas Markle, through his New Hampshire great-grandparents named Ellsworth and Merrill and their colonel relatives.