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Charles Spencer in a suit with wife Karen in a white dress© Alan Davidson/Shutterstock

Charles Spencer's ever-lasting wedding tribute with ex Karen at Althorp

Princess Diana's brother married the charity founder at Althorp in June 2011

Nichola Murphy
Deputy Lifestyle Editor
June 18, 2024
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The 9th Earl Spencer would have been celebrating his 13th wedding anniversary with his wife Countess Spencer, but the pair announced their split in June 2024.

They had tied the knot at Charles' ancestral home Althorp House, where there continues to be a permanent, bittersweet reminder of their union. Charles and Karen have only released a handful of photos of their wedding, but a documentary that aired in 2012 shared more details about the "personal" day.

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Standing on the grand split staircase in the saloon, Charles reminisced: "I got married on this spot last June, with the local choir, the Spencer choir all around the top [of the mezzanine] and the guests down below and it was really magnificent to use this beautiful hall for something so personal."

Charles Spencer with wife Karen© Michael Kovac
Charles Spencer and Karen got married in 2011, one year after they started dating

Charles and Karen later had a special wedding tribute installed inside the home, where Princess Diana spent several childhood years. In 2017, they had a new carpet featuring their wedding date, their initials and their children’s initials placed in the spot where they exchanged their vows on the stairs. 

Charles and Karen's wedding

Aerial view of Althorp, this grade 1 listed stately home was the home of Lady Diana Spencer who later became the Princess of Wales, it is located on the Harlestone Road between the villages of Great Brington and Harlestone, 5 miles north west of Northampton. © David Goddard
Althorp House served as Charles' wedding venue

The former couple invited close friends and family to celebrate their wedding at Althorp, including Charles’ youngest daughter Lady Lara Spencer and Karen’s children Emma and Kate from her first marriage, who took on the important role of bridesmaids.

They were pictured in bridal white dresses with puff sleeves and white bouquets, similar to the one Karen held. She looked beautiful in a figure-hugging lace wedding dress with capped sleeves and a sweetheart neckline.

A reported 60 guests stayed overnight in the 31-bedroom mansion set on 13,000 acres of grounds, which includes the Oval Lake where Diana was laid to rest in 1997.

Charles' love story

Karen Spencer's hand with her diamond engagement ring© Instagram
Karen's diamond engagement ring belonged to Countess Margaret Spencer

The Earl and the Countess met on a blind date in Los Angeles less than a year before Charles proposed in February 2011. He gave his third wife an antique ring from the Spencer family collection, which they later discovered had been a wedding gift from Lady Sarah Spencer to Charles’s great-grandmother Margaret. Coincidentally, she got engaged on Charles and Karen's wedding date, 18 June.

To mark his tenth anniversary, Charles opened up about his relationship with Karen in an interview with The Times, admitting that he "wasn’t blown off my feet" with Karen, but her work with kids "hit home."

Karen Gordon (L) and Earl Charles Spencer attend Ubuntu Gala: Healthy Bodies, Inspired Minds, Bright Futures benefiting the Ubuntu Eduction Fund at Battersea Power station on May 4, 2011© Dave M. Benett
Charles said "marrying me was a gamble" for Karen

"By the time I met Karen, I’d worked out what didn’t work for me. I realised I no longer needed to go for someone who was vulnerable or found love a difficult concept. 

"I wasn’t blown off my feet by her, it was a completely different feeling; it felt more like coming home to something that was right. We got engaged quickly and I’m sure people thought, 'Here he goes again,' but I was confident."

The father-of-seven – who shares daughter Charlotte – with Karen, added: "I suppose marrying me was a gamble [for Karen]. But she’s very much her own person."

Charles' three marriage splits

Earl Spencer & Wife Caroline Attend The World Charity Premiere Of 'Notting Hill'© Justin Goff
The 9th Earl Spencer had been married twice before meeting Karen (pictured with his ex Caroline)

In the same interview, Karen discussed her thoughts on Charles' former marriages: Victoria Aitken from 1989 to 1997, and Caroline Freud from 2001 to 2007.

"I’ve been a first wife and a third and – trust me on this – you really want to be the third because men are so motivated at this point. They are really, really paying attention," she said.

Karen added: "When you’re damaged, you look for damage. If you’ve experienced trauma and abandonment to the degree Charles did, your brain is hard-wired. I think we are particularly suited to each other, but the real credit lies with him for retuning himself to the point where he was going to pick better."

However, Charles confirmed the end of their 12-year marriage in 2024 by sharing the "immensely sad" news with the Mail On Sunday. "I just want to devote myself to all my children, and to my grandchildren, and I wish Karen every happiness in the future," he said.

DON'T MISS: Princess Anne is a vision in satin wedding guest skirt and bridal white accessories

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