'End of an era': Princes Harry and Will's great-aunt dies aged 99

The great-aunt of Princes William and Harry has passed away aged 99 - just half a year away from hitting a big life milestone and receiving a birthday letter from the Queen - her family have confirmed.

Lady Anne Wake-Walker - née Spencer - was related to the brothers through their late mother, Princess Diana, who was Lady Anne’s niece.

The news of Lady Anne’s passing was announced on Instagram on Wednesday by Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, who described the near-centenarian’s death as the “end of an era”.

Lady Anne Wake-Walker (second from left) with various members of her family including a young Princess Diana Spencer (centre front). Photo: Getty Images.

The 9th Earl Spencer posted a childhood photograph of his aunt and father, John Spencer, playing on a swing at the family estate of Althorp in 1925, describing Lady Anne as “a wonderful lady” in the caption.

“She was an officer in the WRENS in the Second World War, and was a much-loved mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother - as well as sister and aunt, of course,” he wrote.

Lady Anne shared a close relationship with Diana, revealing in Diana: The Portrait by Rosalind Coward that her niece wrote her a letter when her husband was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, desperate to help in any way she could. Diana also worked for the Parkinson's Disease Society.

When she tragically died in a car crash in 1997, Lady Anne paid tribute to her niece describing her as a “sweet, thoughtful and very kind girl”.

Charles Spencer shared this photo of his Aunt Anne playing with his father at Althorp House in 1925. Photo: Instagram/cspencer1508.
Princess Diana had a close relationship with her aunt. (Getty Images)

While there aren’t many public pictures of Lady Anne in later life, there is one dating back to 1923 on display at the National Portrait Gallery in London showing her as a toddler, then three, with her parents Albert Spencer and Cynthia Hamilton.

Lady Anne married Christopher Baldwin Hughes Wake-Walker, then a lieutenant in the Royal navy at Westminster Abbey on a 10 February 1944.

The couple went on to have five children: Elizabeth Duckworth-Chad, David, Richard and Michael Spencer and Diana Macfarlane.

Lady Anne Spencer struggles to control her veil as she and her new husband Christopher Wake-Walker leave Westminster Abbey, London, after their wedding on February 10, 1944. Photo: Getty Images.

Additional reporting by Caroline Allen.

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