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Charles Spencer and Karen Spencer at Ascot© Max Mumby/Indigo

Charles Spencer – everything you need to know about Princess Diana's brother as he divorces from third wife

Earl Spencer confirmed his split on 8 June

Matthew Moore
Online News Writer & Diversity and Inclusion Lead
June 12, 2024
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Charles Spencer is the 9th Earl Spencer and is the current head of the Spencer household, however his life is set for a huge change after he confirmed that he and wife, Karen Gordon, would be going their separate ways.

In a statement shared with the Mail on Sunday, the Earl said: "It is immensely sad. I just want to devote myself to all my children, and to my grandchildren, and I wish Karen every happiness in the future."  The couple married in June 2011 and share a 12-year-old daughter, Charlotte Diana.

WATCH: All you need to know about Diana's younger brother, Charles Spencer

Outside of his divorce, the Earl has also had quite an interesting life, from his early childhood to his three marriages to becoming a successful author. But, it's also been marked with hardships as not only did he lose Diana and a brother he never knew, but he confessed last year that he had been sexually abused as a child.

Read on to find out all you need to know about Diana's younger brother…

Early life

Born on 20 May 1964, Charles was the youngest of his siblings and was born to John Spencer and Frances Shand Kydd. His older sisters are Lady Sarah McCorquodale, Lady Jane Fellowes and the late Princess Diana. He also had an older brother, John, but John died hours after his birth on 12 January 1960.

A young Princess Diana pushing her young brother Charles Spencer on a swing© Hulton Archive
Charles is the younger brother of the late Princess Diana

At the age of five, his parents split and while Lady Sarah and Lady Jane were in boarding school at the time, Charles and Diana ended up being raised by their father, which is how their bond solidified.

In an interview with the Sunday Times, Charles shared: "Diana and I had two older sisters who were away at school, so she and I were very much in it together and I did talk to her about it. 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."

Black-and-white photo of Charles Spencer, Princess Diana, King Charles, Lady Jane Fellowes and Lady Sarah McCorquodale© Keith Butcher/Shutterstock
Charles is the youngest of his siblings

However, the split was still difficult on Charles and he confessed to People that he had been "in and out of therapy for 20 years".

Relationship with Diana

Due to their shared childhood experiences, Charles and Diana came to rely on each other during their youths.

Recalling growing up together, he stated: "I just think she was never shy, but she was canny about people and she was reserved to start with. And she would take a judgment of somebody before reacting to them. So, that's not shy ... that's actually quite clever."

Lady Diana Spencer and Charles Spencer in 1968© Getty
A young Charles Spencer with sister Diana in 1968

Charles also led the tributes to his late sister, giving her eulogy at her funeral and paid tribute to someone who was the "very essence of compassion, of duty, of style, of beauty".

Following her funeral, Diana was buried on an artificial island on her family estate, where Charles currently lives. Charles views himself as a custodian of the estate and makes sure her resting place is maintained and kept clean.

Charles Spencer walking with Princess Diana© Paul Fievez/Daily Mail/Shutterstock
Charles and Diana grew up together

On Good Morning Britain in 2021, the Earl shared: "Every landmark day, such as birthday, Mother's Day, I always take flowers. I do go a lot, and it's an oasis of calm, and it's a lovely place to go."

Childhood abuse

In 2024, Charles revealed that during his time at boarding school he was both physically and sexually abused. Writing in his memoir, A Very Private School, he revealed: "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."

Charles Spencer showing tourists around Althorp in 1977© Getty
Charles opened up about childhood abuse suffered at school

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", saying: "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."

It's understood that writing about the abuse he suffered put a strain on his relationship with Karen, leading to their divorce.


In his memoir, Charles admitted to losing his virginity at 12 to an Italian prostitute as part of the sexual abuse he suffered. "There was no joy in the act, no sense of arrival, no coming of age," he explained. "I believe now that I was simply completing the process set in motion by the assistant matron's perverted attention."

In 1989, he walked down the aisle with model Victoria Lockwood, who had been dubbed as "the most beautiful woman in the world" by Ralph Lauren. The couple enjoyed a whirlwind relationship with the Earl getting down on one knee just six weeks after meeting his beloved.

Lady Amelia Spencer, Lady Kitty Spencer and Lady Eliza Spencer in black outfits© Dave Benett
The Earl shared three daughters and a son with his first wife

Diana's youngest son, Prince Harry, served as a pageboy at the wedding and the pair welcomed daughters Lady Kitty, twins Lady Amelia and Lady Eliza and son Viscount Althorp. The pair even moved to South Africa, but they ultimately went their separate ways in 1997, with Charles returning to the UK.

Charles later married Caroline Freud in 2001 with the duo welcoming Edmund Spencer and Lady Lara, but months after welcoming their daughter, the pair ended up going their separate ways.

Charles and his wife Karen at Prince Harry's wedding© Getty
The Earl's third wife was Karen Gordon

Charles eventually found love with Karen Gordon and the pair walked down the aisle in 2011. The couple have welcomed daughter Charlotte and her middle name, Diana, is a reference to her late aunt. In June 2024, it was confirmed that the Earl and Karen were in the midst of divorcing.


aerial photograph of althorp house home to charles spencer
Charles and Karen often share updates from Althorp

The Earl currently lives at Althorp, which has been in the family for 500 years, after being constructed in 1508. Charles regularly shares updates of the grounds on his Instagram Stories, including glimpses inside Diana's final resting place.

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