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Charles Spencer supported by fans as he talks 'uncompromising' childhood book in heartfelt post

Princess Diana's brother opened up about the 'relief' of sharing his story

Charles Spencer standing outside in a blue suit
Diane Shipley
Senior Online Writer
17 January 2024
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Earl Spencer moved his many followers when he revealed he'd written a book about his childhood and his experience of boarding school, which his wife Karen said "breaks my heart"

On Instagram, he shared an image of himself behind a microphone, reading the audiobook, which he paired with a caption about what he described as "an uncompromising book," sharing the sadness that many of his contemporaries have felt for half a century. 

In an emotional caption, the father-of-seven wrote: "In the studio today, narrating the audiobook of A Very Private School, for publication day - 12 March, by @gallerybooks, in the USA, and 14 March, by @wmcollinsbooks, in the UK. A relief to hear my words. And know that every sentence rang true, about the school I attended when aged 8 to 13." 

Charles Spencer showing tourists around Althorp in 1977© Getty
A teenage Charles in 1977

He went on: "It's an uncompromising book - the saddest parts come not from me (I'm just the way in to the tale), but from my contemporaries, who've suffered in silence for 50 years. 

"Last week one of my friends there told me that my writing this book had prompted him to tell his wife of 38 years, for the very first time, what he went through as a boy. They cried together, for an hour. #memoir #averyprivateschool #childhoodmemories #boardingschool #englishtradition #nonfiction #newbook." 

Charles opened up in his post
View post on Instagram

Charles' followers were full of compassion and shared their encouragement about the book, with one commenting: "I am so sorry for what you and your friends endured… Thank you for sharing this important story. I look forward to reading it [heart emoji]." 

Others added, "Bravo Charles - such courage. X," and: "Congratulations on getting your story out there, not just for you but for your fellow students," with the Earl responding to the latter comment: "And that’s the point! Thank you." 

a view of Althorp House © Instagram
Charles is custodian of the Spencer family home, Althorp House

The popular author and historian has previously spoken about how difficult he found it to be sent to boarding school at the age of just eight. The cover of this book will feature a photograph of himself at that age, alongside his school trunk and suitcase. 

When he first publicly shared the cover image, Karen re-posted it to her Instagram account, commenting: "My husband Charles has written a book about his experience at the boarding school he was sent to at age 8. It's titled 'A Very Private School' it's being released in March, but you can preorder now. As a mother, this photo of him, aged 8, about to leave his home just breaks my heart." 

Charles at Royal Ascot with his wife Karen© Getty
Charles' wife Karen is so supportive

Karen continued: "I can't even begin to express how proud I am of him for writing this book. It was hard even watching him write it. Reliving it in order to write it and connecting with his contemporaries who shared the experience and living their trauma has made for a very challenging 5 years. But it's worth it. 

"This is a story that needs to be told, and there is no one better to tell it. His history-author brain, obsessive with detail and facts, his ability to put the whole madness of sending children away at 8 into a [historical] context, and his painfully beautiful writing combine so wonderfully to make this difficult subject absolutely riveting…"

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