Charles Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer

The Earl Spencer

Born Charles Edward Maurice Spencer
(1964-05-20) 20 May 1964
London, United Kingdom
Title Earl Spencer
Tenure 29 March 1992 – present
Other titles Viscount Althorp (1975-1992)
Known for Younger brother of Diana, Princess of Wales
Nationality British
Residence Althorp
Spencer House
Predecessor John Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer
Heir Louis Spencer, Viscount Althorp
Spouse(s) Victoria Lockwood
(m. 1989; div. 1997)

Caroline Freud
(m. 2001; div. 2007)

Karen Villeneuve
(m. 2011)
Issue Lady Kitty Spencer
Lady Eliza Spencer
Lady Amelia Spencer
Louis Spencer, Viscount Althorp
The Honourable Edmund Spencer [1]
Lady Lara Spencer
Lady Charlotte Spencer
Parents John Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer
Frances Roche

Charles Edward Maurice Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer, DL (born 20 May 1964), styled Viscount Althorp between 1975 and 1992, is the younger brother of Diana, Princess of Wales. He is also a British peer, author, print journalist, and broadcaster. Through his sister Diana he is the maternal uncle of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Prince Harry, and the great-uncle of Prince George of Cambridge and Princess Charlotte of Cambridge.

Early life and education

Spencer was born in London on 20 May 1964 and named Charles Edward Maurice, with Queen Elizabeth II as his godmother.[2] His parents were then called Viscount and Viscountess Althorp, as his grandfather Albert Spencer, 7th Earl Spencer, was still alive.[2] He had three elder sisters: Sarah, Jane, and Diana, who later became the Princess of Wales. An elder brother, John, had died within hours of birth.[2]

He was educated at Eton and Magdalen College, Oxford, where he read Modern History.[3][4]


Spencer worked as an on-air correspondent with NBC News from 1986 to 1995, primarily for the network's morning programme, Today, and NBC Nightly News. He wrote and presented the 12-part documentary series, "Great Houses of the World" (1994–1995) for NBC Super Channel. He also worked as a reporter for Granada Television from 1991 to 1993.

Spencer has written several book reviews for The Guardian and The Independent on Sunday as well as feature stories for The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph and American publications such as Vanity Fair, Verandah and Nest.

Upon his father's death on 29 March 1992, 27-year-old Spencer succeeded as 9th Earl Spencer, 9th Viscount Althorp, 9th Viscount Spencer of Althorp, 9th Baron Spencer of Althorp, and 4th Viscount Althorp. He also inherited Althorp, the family's ancestral seat in Northamptonshire.[5] Since 2009, he has restored Althorp, re-roofing it and restoring its entire exterior for the first time since the 1780s. He has also helped establish Althorp Living History, a handmade fine-furniture line reproducing pieces from the collection at Althorp. The Spencer family's wealth derived from their profitable sheep farming in the Tudor era.[6][7]

On 31 August 1997, his older sister Diana died after a car crash in Paris and Spencer delivered the eulogy at her funeral service held at Westminster Abbey six days later. In his eulogy he rebuked both Britain's royal family and the press for their treatment of his sister.[8]

It was reported in 2003 that Spencer had refused to allow his sister Diana to live at Althorp, despite her request. It was also reported that Spencer had accused Diana of displaying "deceitful" and "manipulative" behaviour which were characteristics of the mental illness associated with Bulimia Nervosa which Diana herself had admitted she suffered.[9][10]

Diana was buried on Spencer's ancestral estate, Althorp, where he built a mausoleum and a museum to her memory, displaying her wedding dress and other personal effects. The museum was opened to the public in 1998 with all profits going to Diana's Memorial Fund, also set up by Spencer.

At this stage, Spencer began writing a series of books dealing with the estate itself and with his family history, being:

In 2003, Spencer founded the Althorp Literary Festival. Speakers at the annual event have included the authors Bill Bryson, Helen Fielding, Antonia Fraser, and Boris Johnson.

In 2004, he presented two documentaries for the History Channel on Blenheim: Battle for Europe.[11] He contributed a chapter to British Military Greats, published by Cassell in 2005. He also contributed two of the 100 chapters of The Art of War: Great Commanders of the Modern World, published by Quercus in 2009.

Spencer was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of Northamptonshire in November 2005; the Spencer family have had a long association with the county, the home of the family seat, Althorp. Spencer is also a patron of the Northamptonshire County Cricket Club.[12]

Spencer has also involved himself in charitable and humanitarian causes. He has been a patron of the Friends of Cynthia Spencer Hospice in Northampton, England since 1989. He was a patron of the Lifeline and Childline charities in Western Cape, South Africa from 1997 to 2000. He has served as a trustee of Nelson Mandela Children's Fund since 1998. He is a patron of Thomas's Fund, which provides music for severely ill children.

In July 2011 he became one of the patrons of Northampton Hope Centre, a local homeless charity in Northampton.

Personal life

On 16 September 1989, Spencer, then known by the courtesy title of Lord Althorp, married (Catherine) Victoria Lockwood (born 20 November 1965). The wedding was held at the Church of St Mary, Great Brington, and Darius Guppy was the best man. Two nieces, Emily McCorquodale and The Hon. Eleanor Fellowes, were bridesmaids. Two nephews, Prince Harry and The Hon. Alexander Fellowes (son of Lord and Lady Fellowes), were page boys. Spencer and Lockwood, who had moved to Cape Town, South Africa, were divorced on 3 December 1997. Diana's death occurred while the divorce case was in progress; shortly after his divorce, Spencer moved back to the United Kingdom. The Earl has four children by Victoria Lockwood, three daughters and one son:[13]

On 15 December 2001, he married Caroline Freud (born Caroline Hutton), former wife of Matthew Freud. The Earl has two children by Caroline, from whom he separated in 2007 and since divorced:[14]

On 18 June 2011 at Althorp House, Spencer married Karen Gordon (born Karen Villeneuve), a Canadian philanthropist and the founder and chief executive of Whole Child International, a charity based in Los Angeles which works to improve the lot of orphaned, abandoned, or abused children.[14] They have one child together:[15]

Spencer chose to name his fifth daughter after his late sister, Diana, Princess of Wales.[16] Spencer was reported to have said, "We hadn't settled on a first name before the birth, but Charlotte is a name we both love, and it really suits her. We knew that as soon as we saw her. And though it's been 15 years since Diana died, I still miss her every day and I wanted her commemorated in the naming of our daughter."[17]

The Earl resides at his ancestral seat, Althorp House.

Spencer attended the wedding of his nephew and niece-by-marriage, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at Westminster Abbey on 29 April 2011. Neither Prince Harry nor the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended the Earl's third wedding.[14]

Titles from birth




  1. 1 2
  2. 1 2 3 "Biography for Earl Charles Spencer". IMDb. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
  3. "Ken Dodd at Althorp's Literary Festival". Althorp. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
  4. "Speaker Profile". London Speaker Bureau. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
  6. The Tarnished Crown: Crisis in the House of Windsor, by Anthony Holden, London, Viking Publishers 1993.
  7. "Almost alone among the great families who rose to affluence in the sixteenth century the Spencers owed their wealth not to the favour of a monarch or to the acquisition of monastery lands but to their own skill as farmers and businessmen." Georgina Battiscombe in The Spencers of Althorp, 1984
  8. "Prince William's uncle Earl Spencer set to wed". BBC. 15 February 2011. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
  9. Catchpole, Zoe. "Earl branded Diana 'deceitful'". Daily Mail. Retrieved 3 September 2015. Earl Spencer branded his sister manipulative and deceitful and accused her of having mental problems in a letter which drove her to tears..her brother announced his refusal to allow her back to stay at the family home at Althorp in Northamptonshire, despite her request
  10. Davies, Caroline (23 October 2003). "Diana 'wept as she read brother's cruel words'". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 3 September 2015. He (Paul Burrell) launched a scathing attack on Lord Spencer, calling him a hypocrite, and said the letter that had most hurt Diana was one from her brother refusing her permission to move to the Althorp estate and dismissing the bulimia from which she suffered as "mental problems"
  11. Jikhano (May 26, 2006). "History Channel: Blenheim - Battle For Europe". Retrieved June 20, 2016.
  12. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 August 2013. Retrieved 2013-07-30.
  13. Calvi, Nuala (25 April 2011). "Royal wedding clash of the titles! Spencers vs. Parker Bowles". CNN. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
  14. 1 2 3 Roya Nikkhah; Ben Leach (18 June 2011). "Earl Spencer marries for a third time". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
  15. Nicholl, Kate (5 August 2012). "Spencer's joy as Althorp sees first birth since 1793". Daily Mail. London. Retrieved 5 August 2012.
  16. 1 2 "Princess Diana's Brother Names His Daughter in Her Memory". US Weekly. 6 August 2012. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
  17. "Earl Spencer names baby daughter after Diana, Princess of Wales". The Telegraph. UK. 6 August 2012.


External links

Court offices
Preceded by
Edward Gordon-Lennox
Page of Honour
Succeeded by
Tyrone Plunket
Peerage of Great Britain
Preceded by
Edward Spencer
Earl Spencer
Louis Spencer, Viscount Althorp
Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
Preceded by
The Rt. Hon. The Earl of Radnor
United Kingdom Order of Precedence
Succeeded by
The Rt. Hon. The Earl Bathurst
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