Princess Diana and her younger brother Charles Spencer struggled as children when their parents divorced, but they were “in it together,” Spencer said in an interview with The Sunday Times published over the weekend.
“Our father was a quiet and constant source of love, but our mother wasn’t cut out for maternity,” Spencer, an author whose historical books include two bestsellers, told the outlet. “Not her fault, she couldn’t do it. She was in love with someone else — infatuated, really.”
He told a heartbreaking story of his sister’s longing for their mother’s return.
“While she was packing her stuff to leave, she promised Diana [then age 5] she’d come back to see her,” Spencer said. “Diana used to wait on the doorstep for her, but she never came.”
The siblings had two older sisters who were away at school, Spencer said of siblings Sarah and Jane, “so she and I were very much in it together and I did talk to her about it.” The family also had a son John who died a few hours after birth.
Spencer also revealed his own pain, and sometimes even his sister couldn’t help.
“She could hear me crying down the corridor [some nights] but was too scared of the dark to come to me,” he said.
“The thing I’ve learnt through all the stuff I’ve tackled is that very few people set out to be destructive,” Spencer said. He revealed he’s been “in and out of therapy for 20 years” and said he doesn’t “blame anyone.”
“I did a lot of very profound work on my unhappy childhood last year, which was agonising and horrible,” he said. “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.”
Andrew Morton’s controversial 1992 biography ― “Diana: Her True Story,” for which Diana was after her death was revealed to be the main source ― presented the Spencer children’s mother, Frances Shand Kydd, in a more favorable way.
The book says that after Frances and her husband Edward John Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer, agreed to a trial separation, she promptly moved out of the family home, called Park House, and into an apartment in London.
“It was then that the myth of ‘the bolter’ was born, that Frances had left her husband and deserted her four children for the love of another man,” Morton wrote. “She was cast as the selfish villainess of the drama, her husband the innocent injured. In fact when she left home Lady Althorp had already made arrangements for Charles and Diana to live with her in London.”
The children were enrolled in school in London, Morton continued, and their father would visit on weekends. After some time, he “refused to let them return to London.”