Frances Shand Kydd, the mother of the late Princess Diana, died Thursday at her home near Oban in Scotland, it was confirmed to PEOPLE’s London bureau.
Canon Donald MacKay, a Roman Catholic priest, told the Associated Press that he was with Mrs. Shand Kydd, 67, when she died.
According to published reports, she had been admitted to the hospital near her home on the Argyll coast several days ago.
A spokesman for Mrs. Shand Kydd’s son, Earl Spencer, said in a statement: “Earl Spencer’s mother passed away peacefully this morning after suffering from a long illness. Now this is private time for the family to grieve.”
Prince William, 21, said Thursday that he and Prince Harry, 19, are “very upset” at the news of their maternal grandmother’s death.
Queen Elizabeth has sent a private message of condolence to Earl Spencer, Diana’s brother.
Diana and her mother shared what was described as a turbulent relationship, and it was revealed recently that the two did not speak during the last four month’s of Diana’s life, to the point that the princess was returning her mother’s letters to her unopened.
Still, after Diana died in a Paris car crash in 1997, the family matriarch, who was a convert to Roman Catholicism, was said to have taken comfort with commoners as well as with other members of nobility.
She also wrote – by hand – thousands of replies to the letters of sympathy she received after her daughter’s death and took active roles in charities, as a way to have kept Diana’s memory alive, it was said.
Mrs. Shand Kydd, born Frances Ruth Burke Roche, married Edward John Spencer in 1954 and had four children, including Diana (born 1961). The couple divorced in 1969 and she married Peter Shand Kydd, though Diana continued to live with her father.
The Shand Kidds separated in 1988.