7. Princess Diana Descended From a Dollar Princess
Frances Ellen Work, known to her friends as Fannie, was born in New York City in 1857 to a self-made multi-millionaire, Frank Work. By the time Frank died, he had amassed a fortune of $15 million, billions in today’s money. Fannie was considered by those around her to be exceptionally beautiful, and her grandmother was keen to see that this beauty be fully appreciated. After all, her maternal grandmother, Ellen Strong, had found herself in the presence of eight presidents. She wanted Fannie to have the same opportunities, if not more, to be able to run in the most prestigious social circles of them all: British nobility.
Fannie married James Boothby Burke Roche, the son of the First Baron Fermoy. He enjoyed a lavish lifestyle but wasn’t particularly wealthy. That is until he obtained Fannie’s dowry. Ironically, Fannie’s father vehemently disapproved of the marriage and wrote her out of his will, possibly to keep more of his hard-earned money from falling into the free-spending hands of the baron. After all, the baron blew most of his wife’s $2.5 million dowries on gambling. The marriage was far from a total loss: Fannie’s granddaughter was Princess Diana, the “people’s princess” who was known for her advocacy for the poor.
Of the mercenary marriage, Diana’s brother said, “I don’t know if he fell in love with her, or her father’s fortune.”