Sarah was born The Honourable Elizabeth Sarah Lavinia Spencer; she acquired the courtesy title Lady Elizabeth Sarah Lavinia Spencer in 1975, when her grandfather died and her father became the 8th Earl Spencer. She suffered from the eating disorder anorexia nervosa in her early twenties. She was educated firstly at Riddlesworth Hall School in Norfolk and secondly at West Heath boarding school near Sevenoaks in Kent. After passing O Level exams she left West Heath to work in London.
Sarah married Neil Edmund McCorquodale (born 4 October 1951), son of Alastair McCorquodale and Rosemary Sybil Turnor, on 17 May 1980 in Northamptonshire, England. Neil is a 2nd cousin once removed of Lady Sarah's stepmother, Raine Spencer.
Neil and Lady Sarah McCorquodale have three children;Emily Jane (born 2 July 1983)George Edmund (born 17 November 1984)Celia Rose (born 1989)
Emily received radiation treatment for plasmacytoma in 2003. She married James Hutt on 9 June 2012 and they have two children: Isabella Rosemary Hutt (born 18 June 2014) and Henry George Thomas Hutt (born 25 March 2016).
Lady Sarah was accompanied by her husband and their children to the service of thanksgiving for the life of Diana at Westminster Abbey on 6 September 1997.
She and her family reside near Grantham, Lincolnshire where she served a one-year term as High Sheriff of Lincolnshire in 2009. She became a master of the Belvoir Hunt in May 2010. Lady Sarah was also president of the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, which raised £100 million for various charities. The Fund unsuccessfully took legal action in 1998 against the Franklin Mint over the unlicensed use of Diana's image. The Fund closed at the end of 2012.
In 1977, Sarah's relationship with Prince Charles led to the first meeting between Diana and her future husband. She later commented on her sister's marriage saying: "I introduced them. I'm Cupid." During the period in which she dated the prince, she allegedly met two reporters, James Whittaker and Nigel Nelson, at a restaurant and gave them an exclusive report on her royal connection. She is said to have admitted to having been diagnosed with anorexia, having "thousands of boyfriends", a past problem involving alcohol, and that she had started keeping a scrapbook of all the press clippings about her royal romance that she intended to "show" future grandchildren. "Her head seemed to be turned by the publicity", the two reporters later said. She also declared that she would not marry Charles "if he were the dustman or the King of England". When the article was released, she showed it to the prince, which made him furious and he replied, "You've just done something incredibly stupid". The relationship dissolved soon after that. Some have stated the relationship between her and Diana was strained, because of her long resentment of the Prince marrying Diana and not her, though others (including Diana's biographer Andrew Morton) have said she was one of the few people Diana trusted. Later in Diana's life, she often accompanied Diana on official visits as one of her ladies-in-waiting.
Upon the death of Diana on 31 August 1997, Sarah flew to Paris with her younger sister, Jane, and Prince Charles to accompany Diana's body back to England. She contributed to the readings at Diana's funeral. She was co-executor of Diana's will and was president of the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund. Sarah also attended the wedding of her nephew Prince William to Catherine Middleton on 29 April 2011. It is said that William and Catherine are close to Lady Sarah, with whom they spent a weekend on the 16th anniversary of Diana's death.
Sarah has shared a lifelong close relationship with her younger sister Jane. Author Anne Edwards, who wrote a best-selling biography of Diana, said Diana's two older sisters were extremely close and loyal to each other. Sarah gave her first child, Emily, the middle name of 'Jane' in a tribute to her younger sister. Her relationship with younger brother Earl Spencer has been volatile at the best of times. As the eldest and the youngest of the Spencer children, they have clashed frequently in adulthood and childhood. In recent years, possibly due to the death of their sister, the siblings appear to have settled previous differences.1955–1975: The Honourable Sarah Spencer1975–1980: Lady Sarah Spencer1980–present: Lady Sarah McCorquodale