August 31 marks the 25th anniversary of Princess Diana’s tragic death — and her only brother, Charles, proudly spoke out about his sister! “I’m always surprised by how difficult August 31 is each year actually,” he said.
“I always slightly brace myself for it and it does take me out at the knees. It is a very poignant time.
“Diana was the very essence of compassion, of duty, of style, of beauty. All over the world she was a symbol of selfless humanity.”
Charles, who is the 9th Earl Spencer, is Diana’s younger brother by three years. They share dad John Spencer, the 8th Earl (who died in 1992), and mother Frances Shand Kydd (who died in 2004), along with two older sisters, Jane, 65, and Sarah, 67.
Although they were immensely wealthy, titled and lived on the 13,000-acre Althorp Estate, the Spencers had a troubled marriage and their kids suffered through a heart-breaking childhood. Their mother left and gave up custody of her four kids to marry her lover. Charles was two and Diana was five.
The older sisters were at boarding school. “When she was packing her stuff to leave, she promised Diana she’d come back to see us,” said Charles, 58. “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. 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.”
Spencer said even in his earliest memories of Diana, “she always had a sort of natural star quality,” but “it would be wrong to think of Diana as a saintly child. I mean, she was quite naughty, never with malice, you know, just sort of pushing the boundaries.”
Diana, a shy 18-year-old teenager, met Prince Charles, who had dated older sister Sarah a few years before. They became engaged after only 12 dates, but a day before the July 29, 1981, nuptials, she tried to call it off when she realized he was in love with Camilla Parker-Bowles.
When she told sisters Sarah and Jane, they allegedly urged her to go through with it, and told her it was too late to “chicken out.” Her younger brother, Charles, held his tongue, but years later got into a “massive fight” with Prince Charles. The two almost came to blows just days after Diana’s shocking death at age 36 after the 1997 car crash in Paris. Her brother was outraged that Diana’s sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, were going to walk behind their mother’s casket in her funeral procession. “Spencer felt quite sure that Diana would have been horrified at the idea of her sons having to endure such an ordeal,” said an insider. “He had already told Charles as much.”
When the argument continued, Prince Charles made a “particularly offensive comment” about Diana, and her brother couldn’t bear to hear another word.
“That all but sealed the ill-fated label on his [Prince Charles] relationship with the Spencers,” added the insider.
Charles Spencer was later proven right. Prince Harry says the 34-minute march, which he did alongside Spencer, dad Prince Charles, grandfather Prince Philip and brother Prince William, was excruciating. “I don’t think any child should be asked to do that, under any circumstances. I don’t think it would happen today,” said Prince Harry, now 37.
Prince William, now 40, added that it was “one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.”
Spencer said it wasn’t easy for him either, even as a grown man. While he walked, “I could hear people in the crowds sobbing, wailing and shouting messages of love to Diana ... I still have nightmares about it today.”
Publicly, Spencer won’t say which of Diana’s lovers was the man she loved the most, but says Diana’s true love was not for one man, but two — her sons, William and Harry — and after she died, he said, “I pledge that we, your blood family, will do all we can to continue the imaginative and loving way in which you were steering these two boys.”
Privately, insiders say out of all of Diana’s affairs — including Dodi Fayed, who died with her — there was only one man she fell head over heels for: Hasnat Khan, a Pakistani heart surgeon, who she called “The One.” “I found my peace,” Diana told a friend after falling for him. “He has given me all the things I need.”
But Khan dreaded being in the public eye and had no desire to live the high life. He always refused Diana’s generous gifts, including a new car. As for the blame for Diana’s death, Spencer puts that squarely on the shoulders of “deceitful” Martin Bashir, who “tricked” his sister into her most explosive TV interview with fake bank statements saying those close to her were blabbing about her so she should be the one to talk. Spencer says Bashir’s lies made her lose faith in those around her after taking part in the 1995 BBC television news bombshell.
Diana sat down with the then-unknown journalist and famously revealed, “There were three of us in this marriage.”
She also admitted to her infidelity with Army captain James Hewitt, and questioned Charles’ suitability as the future king. Fumes Spencer: “This is a young girl in her mid 30s who has lived this extraordinarily difficult and turbulent time in the public eye — she didn’t know who to trust — and in the end when she died two years later, she was without any form of real protection.”
Later, Bashir admitted his duplicity. Spencer has said he still feels “very passionately” that he has an obligation to “honor her memory.” “I feel it is my duty to stand up for her when I can,” he said about correcting inaccuracies about her life. “If you grow up with somebody they are still that person — it doesn’t matter what happens to them later.” Diana is buried on the Althorp estate on a small island that Spencer and his sisters can visit — and speak to her — privately.
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