What you don’t know about Princess Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer

It’s no secret that, when Season 4 of The Crown dropped on Netflix in November 2020, it generated renewed interest in the private lives of the royals. Per Forbes, the season covers all the drama of the ’90s, including Prince Charles’ marriage to Princess Diana, the infamous love triangle involving Camilla Parker Bowles, Princess Diana’s eating disorder, and political events like “the ousting” of Margaret Thatcher. It’s pretty safe to say there’s lots to unpack here. 

Throughout it all, Princess Diana remains the star of the show. Beyond The Crown, her legacy continues to occupy a unique position in British consciousness, even two decades after her tragic death at age 36. And while there’s plenty you can learn about her from the show, some personal details are not covered on-screen. For example, what do you know about her family? The Princess of Wales hails from an aristocratic family, and it turns out her younger brother, Charles Spencer, is not a fan of the show or of the way Princess Diana is portrayed on The Crown. “I feel it is my duty to stand up for her when I can,” Spencer told Town & Country. “I feel very passionately that I have a role to honor her memory.” Keep reading for all the details on Princess Diana’s brother.

Charles Spencer is a noted author

Not only is Charles Spencer an important part of British royal history, but he is also something of an expert on it! According to Town & Country, the 9th Earl of Spencer has written numerous books about his family’s history, including Sunday Times bestsellers Blenheim: Battle for Europe, Prince Rupert: The Last Cavalier, Killers of the King, and To Catch A King: Charles II’s Great Escape. The latter is the author and historian’s latest book, which was celebrated at an event in London in 2017, per People

In tribute to Charles II, who loved clothes, the event took place at the Ralph Lauren store on fashionable Bond Street. Fun fact: The monarch once bought 10 purple capes and purchased as many as 40 suits in one year!

When he is not writing bestsellers, Spencer is involved in several charitable organizations, including Whole Child International, which his wife, Karen Spencer, founded. Speaking of Karen…

Charles Spencer is a ladies' man (sort of)

By “ladies’ man,” we really mean that Charles Spencer has been married multiple times. According to Town & Country, the Earl of Spencer divorced his first wife, Victoria Aitken (née Lockwood), in 1997, and his second wife, Caroline Freud, in 2007. He is currently married to philanthropist and founder of Whole Child International, Karen Spencer, whom he wed in 2011. Hello! reports that the pair are parents to daughter Charlotte (who is 8 years old as of this writing). Per Hello!, Charles also fathered four children with Aitken and two children with Freud, making him a dad to seven children in total.

In September 2020, Charles and Karen gave a joint interview to the Sunday Times in which Karen shared the advice Charles gave her when she assumed the role of stepmother. “Charles gave me the best advice, which is to say nothing and do nothing about anything, ever,” she revealed. “I don’t get to have an opinion about his children. I can have an opinion and give it to him, in our bedroom, but not to them.” It sounds like tough advice to follow, and the philanthropist admitted as much, adding that “step-parenting plays to Charles’ strengths and my weaknesses.”

Charles Spencer has royal connections beyond Princess Diana

When we mentioned that Princess Diana came from a blue-blood family, we were not kidding! As it turns out, Charles Spencer’s godmother is Queen Elizabeth II herself. According to Today, Spencer is one of the Queen’s 30 godchildren, and the pair share a longstanding relationship that is “less royal, than of close family.” For proof, look no further than the time the ruling monarch gifted Spencer with what he thought was a book. After bringing it to his English boarding school, “where there weren’t many privileges,” he discovered it was actually a radio. “It did look like a rather odd-looking book,” Spencer admitted to Today. Despite the fact that radios were not allowed in school, “nobody was going to turn away a present I got for my birthday from the Queen,” he added. Well played, your Majesty.

Along with his relationship with HRH, Spencer also inherited plenty of titles courtesy of his aristocratic background. Per Town & Country, his other titles include: 9th Earl of Spencer, 9th Viscount Althorp, 9th Viscount Spencer of Althorp, 9th Baron Spencer of Althorp, and 4th Viscount Althorp.

Charles Spencer gave a controversial eulogy at his sister's funeral

The 9th Earl of Spencer delivered a moving eulogy at Princess Diana’s funeral in 1997, but not everyone saw it that way. In fact, Town & Country reports that the address “angered the royal family.” In his speech, Spencer referred to Princess Diana as “classless … someone with a natural nobility who proved … she needed no royal title to continue to generate her particular brand of magic.” He also spoke of princes Harry and William, pledging to “continue the imaginative and loving way in which you [Diana] were steering these two exceptional young men so that their souls are not simply immersed by duty and tradition, but can sing openly as you planned.”

We are not surprised those lines did not land well! However, the good news is that the rift between the Spencers and Windsors has begun to heal in recent years. On the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death in 2017, Spencer lamented to People that she “would have been the best grandmother ever.” The silver lining is that he is able to witness his sister’s memory live on through Prince William and Prince Harry. “I love seeing the sort of uncomplicated way that they deal with people, and put them at their ease,” Spencer added. “It’s so easy to connect the dots between them and their mother.” We know the Princess of Wales would be so proud to see her two sons carry on her beautiful legacy!

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