David Attenborough and his wife have the most the tragic love story

“The focus of my life, the anchor had gone…now I was lost"
Loading the player...

He is one of the most accomplished faces – and voices – in television history. But little is known about Sir David Attenborough’s life beyond the lens.

WATCH: The official trailer of A Life On Our Planet

The British presenter, 94, who’s latest documentary A Life On Our Planet was recently released on Netflix, shared a 47-year-long love story with his late wife, Jane Elizabeth Ebsworth Oriel.

Although not much is known about the early days of their courtship, the pair met in the 1940s and tied the knot at St Anne’s Church on Kew Green.

David (left) and Jane (centre) on their wedding day. (Credit: Getty)

Shortly after their wedding, Jane, originally from a small Welsh town named Merthyr Tydful, moved to London’s Richmond Upon Thames to officially start their life as a married couple. In the years that followed, they welcomed two children: a daughter, Susan, and son, Robert.

As David’s work required him to be away for long periods of time, Jane was responsible for most of the day-to-day duties that come with raising a family. In an interview with the Radio Times back in 2017, he reflected on this as his only regret.

David, Robert, Susan and Jane (pictured) spending time at home circa 1957. (Credit: Getty)

“If I do have regrets, it is that when my children were the same age as your children, I was away for three months at a time,” he told fellow documentary maker Louis Theroux. “If you have a child of six or eight and you miss three months of his or her life, it’s irreplaceable; you miss something.”

Now aged in their 50s, Susan and Robert look back on their dad’s absence and laugh.

“There used to be family jokes,” David shared. “You know, ‘You were never there. You don’t remember that, Father, do you, because you weren’t there!'”

David (pictured) with his daughter Susan in 1957. (Credit: Getty)

Despite these stints apart, David and Jane stayed very much in love. In fact, it wasn’t until many decades later that ill-health tore them apart.

In 1997, at the age of 70, Jane suffered from a brain haemorrhage while Attenborough was in New Zealand filming The Life of The Birds. As soon as he heard the news, he flew back to be by his wife’s side and say his final goodbyes.

In his memoir Life On Air – published in 2010 – David wrote about their last moments together. He recalled how the doctor suggested he hold her hand to see if she would clasp it back: “She did, and gave my hand a squeeze. The focus of my life, the anchor had gone…now I was lost,” he wrote.

Jane (left) and David (right) were happily married until her death in 1997. (Credit: Getty)

Overcome by grief, David threw himself further into his work. In 2009, he told The Express, “I coped by working. It was the most fantastic luck that I was able to work. If my life had gone a different way – say I had gone into the oil business, which I once considered doing – I would have been out at 60.”

To this day, the presenter has never remarried and still resides in the first house he ever shared with Jane.

“You accommodate things… you deal with things. I’m quite used to solitude in the wilds but, no, an empty house is not what I enjoy. But my daughter’s there. In moments of grief – deep grief – the only consolation you can find is in the natural world.”

A Life On Our Planet aired on Netflix on October 4th and has been described as “a powerful first-hand account of humanity’s impact on nature and a message of hope for future generations.”

RELATED: The touching story behind David Attenborough’s gift to Prince George!

Related stories