Princess Diana’s Brother, Charles Spencer, Opened Up About the Childhood Trauma They Endured

Princess Diana's brother, Charles Spencer, spoke to the Sunday Times about the trauma he and his sister experienced following their parents' separation.

new zealand 20th april 1983 princess diana, princess of wales, looks thoughtful while wearing a tiara in new zealand during april 1983 photo by anwar husseinwireimage
(Image credit: Central Press)

  • Princess Diana's brother, Charles Spencer, spoke to the Sunday Times about the trauma he and his sister experienced following their parents' separation in 1969.
  • "Our father was a quiet and constant source of love, but our mother wasn’t cut out for maternity," he said.
  • Charles, 9th Earl Spencer, said Diana would wait on the doorstep for her mom to visit—"but she never came."

Princess Diana's brother, Charles Spencer, opened up about the childhood trauma he and his sister shared after their parents, John and Frances Spencer, separated in 1969. Speaking to the Sunday Times, Charles, 9th Earl Spencer, said he underwent "agonizing and horrible" work in therapy in order to deal with the lasting effects of his childhood.

london, england february 05 charles spencer, 9th earl spencer, attends the uk premiere of dancing at the vatican hosted by hddennmore at bafta on february 5, 2020 in london, england photo by david m benettdave benettgetty images for charles sabine

'Charles Spencer'

(Image credit: David M. Benett)

"Diana and I had two older sisters who were away at school, so she and I were very much in it together and I did talk to her about it," Charles said of his parents' split. "Our father was a quiet and constant source of love, but our mother wasn’t cut out for maternity. Not her fault, she couldn’t do it."

"While she was packing her stuff to leave, she promised Diana [then aged five] she’d come back to see her. Diana used to wait on the doorstep for her, but she never came. She could hear me crying down the corridor but was too scared of the dark to come to me."

"I’ve been in and out of therapy for 20 years. I did a lot of very profound work on my unhappy childhood last year, which was agonising and horrible," Charles continued. "I don’t say that out of self-pity, it was intriguing to me that it was so desperately unpleasant. But the result has been cathartic. Coming out the other side has been good."

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Emily Dixon
Emily Dixon

Emily Dixon is a British journalist who’s contributed to CNN, Teen Vogue, Time, Glamour, The Guardian, Wonderland, The Big Roundtable, Bust, and more, on everything from mental health to fashion to political activism to feminist zine collectives. She’s also a committed Beyoncé, Kacey Musgraves, and Tracee Ellis Ross fan, an enthusiastic but terrible ballet dancer, and a proud Geordie lass.