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Charles Spencer says he was sexually abused aged 11 at boarding school

The 9th Earl Spencer has written about his time at boarding school in a new memoir

Earl Spencer on Lorraine© Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock
Danielle Stacey
Online Royal CorrespondentLondon
March 11, 2024
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Charles Spencer has disclosed that he was sexually abused at the age of 11 by a female staff member when he was at boarding school.

The 9th Earl Spencer, 59, has detailed the sexual assaults and beatings he suffered at Maidwell Hall in Northampton, in his forthcoming memoir, which he says left him with lifelong "demons".

In an extract from his book, A Very Private School, out on 14 March, which has been serialised in the Mail on Sunday, Charles says that he was abused by an assistant matron at the school when he was a child, during the 1970s. 

He writes: "There seemed to be an unofficial hierarchy among her prey… she chose one boy each term to share her bed and would use him for intercourse. Her control over mesmerised boys was total, for we were starved of feminine warmth and desperate for attention and affection."

In an interview on ITV's Lorraine on Monday morning, Charles shared how his experiences affected his marriages and relationships. 

WATCH: Earl Spencer reveals how school abuse affected his relationships

The Earl, who is the younger brother of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, also says he lost his virginity to an Italian prostitute at the age of 12.

He writes: "There was no joy in the act, no sense of arrival, no coming of age. I believe now that I was simply completing the process set in motion by the assistant matron's perverted attention."

In another extract from the book, Charles also says was beaten with the spikes of a cricket boot by the school’s Latin master. He described reliving his experiences at the school as "an absolutely hellish experience", writing: "I’ve frequently witnessed deep pain, still flickering in the eyes of my Maidwell contemporaries. Many of us left Maidwell with demons sewn into the seams of our souls."

Earl Spencer speaking on Lorraine ITV© Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock
Charles spoke to Lorraine during a very emotional interview

In response to the claims in the book, Maidwell Hall said it was “sorry” about the experiences Earl Spencer and some others had at the school.

The school said: "It is difficult to read about practices which were, sadly, sometimes believed to be normal and acceptable at that time. Within education today, almost every facet of school life has evolved significantly since the 1970s. At the heart of the changes is the safeguarding of children, and promotion of their welfare.

"Although we have not directly received any claims from ex-pupils, considering what has been reported, the school has followed the statutory process and made a referral to the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO). We would encourage anyone with similar experiences to come forward and contact either Maidwell Hall, the LADO or the police."

Charles has detailed accounts of abuse in his memoir© Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock
Charles has detailed accounts of abuse in his memoir

On Sunday, the Earl shared images of him recording the audiobook version of his memoir on Instagram. He said: "Reading the audiobook for my new memoir, A Very Private School, was something I was slightly dreading. But I was very relieved at the end of the 3-day recording to realise that I wouldn’t have changed a single word of my book."

It comes as the Earl's eldest child, Lady Kitty Spencer, revealed in a Mother's Day post that she had welcomed her first child – a daughter – with her husband, Michael Lewis.

If you've been affected by this story, you can contact the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC) for free on 0808 801 0331 Monday to Thursday from 10am to 9pm and on Friday, 10am to 6pm. 

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