The Earl Spencer wants Americans to know that ‘The Crown’ isn’t the real history

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Charles, the Earl Spencer, was the first one to really demand an investigation into Martin Bashir’s tactics for Princess Diana’s 1995 BBC interview. It’s been well-known for years that Bashir falsified documents in an effort to convince Diana to speak to him, and some of those documents were about her younger brother, the Earl Spencer. The Earl Spencer’s relationship with Diana is another thing which gets the revisionist history treatment, especially after the Earl’s stunning rebuke to the Windsors at Diana’s funeral. But the Earl and Diana’s relationship ran hot and cold when she was alive – sometimes they were super-close, and sometimes they were barely speaking to each other. I also think that the Earl has happily turned his sister’s memory into a cottage industry to promote the Spencer clan’s estate, Althorp, where Diana is buried. My point? Charles, the Earl Spencer, has a vested interest in only remembering Diana a certain way. While he wants some things investigated, he also doesn’t want people looking too closely at other parts of Diana’s life.

Princess Diana’s brother worries that viewers of The Crown will “forget that it is fiction.” Netflix’s royal drama introduces Princess Diana in their newly debuted fourth season, but Charles Spencer said on Love Your Weekend with Alan Titchmarsh, airing this Sunday, that the show features “a lot of conjecture and a lot of invention.”

“You can hang it on fact, but the bits in between are not fact,” said the 9th Earl Spencer, a historian and author whose latest book, The White Ship, chronicles one of England’s greatest disasters.

Asked by Titchmarsh if there is an unease on his part watching it, Diana’s younger brother said: “There is a bit. Actually, The Crown asked if they could film at Althorp [the Spencer family's ancestral home], and I said obviously not. The worry for me is that people see a program like that and they forget that it is fiction. They assume, especially foreigners, I find Americans tell me they have watched The Crown as if they have taken a history lesson. Well, they haven’t.”

Spencer said he feels “very passionately” that he has an obligation to “honor her memory.”

“I feel it is my duty to stand up for her when I can,” he said about correcting inaccuracies about her life. “She left me, for instance, as guardian of her sons, so I feel there was a trust passed on. And we grew up together. If you grow up with somebody they are still that person — it doesn’t matter what happens to them later.”

Spencer recently accused the BBC of sending him a “piecemeal apology” for the use of fake documents that were utilized to help secure Princess Diana’s famous BBC interview on Panorama with Martin Bashir 25 years ago. “[The BBC] have yet to apologize for what truly matters here: the incredibly serious falsification of bank statements suggesting that Diana’s closest confidantes were spying on her for her enemies,” Spencer told PEOPLE.

“This was what led me to talk to Diana about such things. This in turn led to the meeting where I introduced Diana to Bashir, on 19 September 1995. This then led to the interview,” he continued. “The BBC have so far refused to acknowledge the above. They claim Diana wasn’t misled. They have ignored my inquiry as to whether the apology over their false bank statements extends to the ones that actually persuaded Diana to meet Bashir.”

[From People]

“The Crown asked if they could film at Althorp…and I said obviously not.” I’m a little bit shocked he said no – the price probably wasn’t right. As soon as he became the Earl Spencer, Charles turned Althorp into what is basically a rental property – business conferences are held there and rich tourists can rent it out for shooting parties and the like. Plus, he opens up the property to tourists every summer so people can make the pilgrimage to Diana’s grave. Even in death, people still want to gawk at her.

Again, the Earl has a vested interest in people not looking too closely at certain aspects of Diana’s life. That’s his right – I certainly understand why he is not interested in endlessly fact-checking this or that of late sister’s life. But part of me wonders if he’s just nervous about what Season 5 will bring, especially when it comes to his “character.”

HRH PRINCESS OF WALES(HRH Princess Diana)Seen at the 1995 WimbledonTennis Championships.Bandphoto Agency PhotoB21 009812/E-36  09.07.1995

Isle of Wight literary festival

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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76 Responses to “The Earl Spencer wants Americans to know that ‘The Crown’ isn’t the real history”

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  1. lemonylips says:

    Wow for a fictional show, based on real life, they sure did make a lot of people sitting on the edge of their seats. Looks like Camilla is the only one playing it smart PR vise. Which just reminds me of her character in the Crown. I mean, who thinks this is a documentary? Sure, it has a lot of truth in it but, c’mon. It’s television.

    • Jenn says:

      Camilla sent out Clarence House courtiers yesterday to complain about abuse on social media. She claims the affair is fiction.

      • lemonylips says:

        oh, well… that “I don’t care as long as I have my glass of wine” story didn’t last long then.

      • Becks1 says:

        that was one of my favorite headlines from this week – the “fictional affair” when even Charles admitted there was an affair!!!

      • Lorelei says:

        Wait, are you saying that Camilla is claiming that the story of her affair with Charles is fiction!? Lmao but that ship sailed decades ago. Literally everyone knows about it.

      • GuestWho says:

        They also turned off the comments on their IG account because people were being “abusive.” They NEVER did that when people were leaving abusive, racist comments about Meghan, Harry, and Archie (none of the palaces did – they were all cess pits of hate).

        As far as the affair being fiction – please. Google is a thing, memories are long, and the internet is forever.

      • GuestWho says:

        Correction (of myself) – they turned off the comments on twitter, not IG.

      • Becks1 says:

        @GuestWho – its probably because they are able to delete the comments on IG. (which again, as you pointed out for turning them off, is something they never did for Meghan.)

      • ABritGuest says:

        Yeah the Independent (which isn’t even meant to be a pro monarchy paper) had a headline about Camilla being trolled because of the ‘fictional affair’ in the Crown. And then Charles biographer, Jobson said people were believing the Crown because they believed Charles got with Camilla whilst still in a relationship with Diana. Trying to be slick but even if you accept Charles’s statement that the marriage broke down mid to late 80s& then he started up with Camilla again- he was still married and they didn’t separate until the 90s.

        People have been commenting ‘love Diana’ or ‘Diana forever’ in Clarence House posts so they have shut down latest twitter posts. Not nice but not particularly awful compared to abusive comments towards Meghan and sometimes Archie on royal SM accounts.

      • Tessa says:

        Charles admitted the affair publicly in 1994.

      • Murphy says:

        They say this because they claim the affair didn’t start until after Diana slept with James Hewitt. In their minds it wasn’t an affair because Diana ventured out of the marriage first.

    • minx says:

      Well, exactly. Sure, Americans are just ninnies who can’t discern what is fiction and what is “history.” What an insufferable twit.

    • Lizzythe2 says:

      Wow. I for one don’t think he ever stopped seeing Camilla. It’s obvious he never loved her or even attempted to court his wife so they could build a relationship. The not calling and living in separate homes is crazy to me. I still think the “whatever love means” comment spoke volumes about how he viewed his marriage to Diana.

      I find it ridiculous that he would complain about Diana seeing other men because he neglected her as he was also with Camilla. Like it’s okay for him to cheat but Diana had to remain celibate. Not that cheating was okay on either party.

      I wonder what will come season 5 is interesting because I thought for sure he would be happy with the royals being trashed. But yeah maybe it’s not in his best interest. I for one think that because of what we knew in the past most of the stuff is true. Maybe with added flair, but true.

    • Katie says:

      right? all of these people freaking out THIS BAD about a TV show really gets one thinking what in the hell is in these people’s closets?

    • Eleonor says:

      I think even in Netflix wildest dream they could have forseen all this free pr!

  2. Becks1 says:

    He probably is more worried about Season 5 than this season. I thought Season 4 made Diana very sympathetic – yes you had the affairs, but they certainly felt justified given what Charles was doing.

    I’ve never seen so many people fall over themselves to insist that a fictional show is fiction without clarifying what, exactly, is fiction. (okay we know the letter probably didn’t happen, but besides that, if your biggest argument is that “well the Queen never met Anne for lunch that day” then…..your argument is pretty weak.)

    • BayTampaBay says:

      “But part of me wonders if he’s just nervous about what Season 5 will bring, especially when it comes to his “character.”

      I doubt Peter Morgan will waste much screen time on this non-royal.

      Earl Spencer is probably worrying about NOT being portrayed in “the Crown” and the missed free opportunities to hype Althorp for all it is worth.

    • Digital Unicorn says:

      Season 5 is going to be brutal on Diana – esp around her affair and being named in the divorce of that England rugby captain (can’t remember his name) and of course her ill fated affair with Dodi. I wonder how they will paint Dodi – a notorious womaniser who was also rumoured to be a coke head. A man who was going to marry someone else but his father made him end that to date Diana – I read he threatened to cut Dodi off it he didn’t do what he wanted.

      Also, am sure he’ll be painted as the opportunist that he was. He tried to profit over her death – wasn’t he going to charge people to enter the ground at Althorp to ‘view’ the island she’s buried on?

      • Tessa says:

        Diana was not named in the divorce of the Carlings. That did not happen. Carling denied any affair took place. Even Penny Junor said there was no affair and she does not like DIana. Diana did not have an affair with Dodi, they were dating, both were free, she was divorced then. Dodi and his father could not have forced Diana to marry Dodi. If DIana did not want to marry him there would be no marriage and I doubt that Diana would have rushed into a marriage. But Diana was never named co-respondent. Ever.

    • Kalana says:

      They are setting up Charles’ redemption: Flying to Paris to escort Diana’s body home, trying to connect with his children, leaning on Camilla through it all as his source of support and stability. The royals need to relax.

      • Sofia says:

        Yeah if “The Queen” movie (also written by Peter Morgan) is any indication, the last 2 seasons won’t be too hard on the royals and will be back to its rose coloured glasses view of them.

      • Jellybean says:

        I thought The Queen was hard on Charles. They kept harping on about him being afraid of being assasinated without explaining why. It wasn’t some random concern, he had lost someone he loved very much to assasins.

      • Kalana says:

        The Queen yelled at Charles about his cheating, self-centeredness, and whining. All of which Charles deserved.

        What episode was about Charles’ fear of being assassinated?

      • Sofia says:

        @Kalana they’re talking about the movie The Queen

      • CC. says:

        Bingo Kalana. The Crown writers are decent enough to not portray someone as all good and all bad. Diana’s going to be portrayed as manipulative, and Charles will get his redemption-he and Diana was allegedly pretty friendly right before her death. The writers will probably show this arc of Diana and Charles finally putting down their guns..and then you know what happens next.

        Now I’m just hoping certain people don’t slide something under the table to get a more positive portrayal of the family

  3. Snuffles says:

    I was about to come in here to say he’s probably shitting himself over how he might be portrayed in the next season. 😛

    It’s incredibly annoying that these people think we don’t know the difference between pure fiction and a fictionalized account of true events. That there aren’t numerous interviews of Diana and Charles that the world can Google in a heartbeat to see that they basics are true.

    What they are worried about is that people will come to the conclusion that not only was it true, it was probably MUCH worse.

  4. Kalana says:

    I saw a tweet from Earl Spencer: “An exhibitor at the Althorp food fest showed me the decoration on their cake today…” with a picture of a little Harry and Meghan on their wedding day. The figures had little plates of food and Meghan’s food was slices of watermelon.

    Same guy who teamed up with William to stop Harry from marrying “that girl.”

    • Nanny to the Rescue says:

      I was wondering if it’s possible that this wasn’t overblown, but I looked the picture up and it’s worse than I thought. Harry has “British looking” sandwiches on his plate and Meghan has watermelon, both obviously meant to represent stereotypes. And Meghan is made a lot darker than she is, which – in this case – I’m sure was meant as an insult.

      Whoever made the cake definitively knew what he was doing. And I don’t think Charlie Spencer here is unaware of what all of that meant.

      • Kalana says:

        Yeah, he knew exactly what it meant. It isn’t a picture of a cake and maybe he didn’t spot the detail. No, the picture is a close-up of the detail.

      • MsIam says:

        Isn’t Meghan supposed to be friends with one of Spencer’s ex-wives? So that probably gives him even more incentive to hate on her.

      • Lorelei says:

        Watermelon? Seriously? Jesus Christ. I’m surprised they didn’t have fried chicken there too. These people are just so vile.

    • Dionne says:

      Do you have a link? I can’t find anything.

    • Redgrl says:

      Wow, that’s disgusting.

      • Liz says:

        Holy crap. I cannot believe he tweeted that out. The person who made the cake definitely knew what they were doing – is there *any* way CS doesn’t know about that stereotype? It is very American-specific.

        However, even if he didn’t know before, someone must have informed him by now. Has he removed it?

        Edited: it looks like it has been removed from his Twitter account. I can’t *believe* this didn’t get more coverage.

      • Lorelei says:

        @Liz whoever did it had to have known. It’s just too specific to be a coincidence. But why would Harry’s uncle call more attention to it? Disgusting

        ETA Liz, I’m sorry, I misread your comment— I guess it’s possible that Diana’s brother didn’t know about the watermelon in particular, but it was still not a flattering photo for him to be sharing. And I’m also surprised it didn’t get more attention; it should have.

      • mynameispearl says:

        Honestly I didnt know about watermelon thing, I just googled it to see what this meant. I assume the cake decorator person did though, that’s awful. Its possible Earl Spencer didnt though, I dont know how much people know of that stereotype here?

        Harry looks like hes in some kind of a skirt suit also, shite looking decoration all round lol

  5. Züri says:

    100% this: “I also think that the Earl has happily turned his sister’s memory into a cottage industry to promote the Spencer clan’s estate, Althorp, where Diana is buried.” I really couldn’t agree more, he has profited considerably from selling out his sister.

    It also doesn’t seem as though William or Harry have particularly close relationship with Charles, which speaks volumes.

  6. Cryptkeeper says:

    Continues to stand up for Diana in death. But in life you can add Earl Spencer as another who failed Diana. He ignored her pleas for refuge at Althorp. I hope the Crown covers it.

    • Aang says:

      I remember being shocked when I read that. She begged for a cottage in the estate and he refused her. Cold hearted. I would never turn away a sibling in need like that.

  7. Esme says:

    So he’s saying he introduced Diana to Bashir. He also didn’t spot the falsified documents and set the whole clusterf**k in motion… does he feel guilty/duped, I wonder?
    Even if they didn’t have a good relationship all the time (they grew up in a dysfunctional family, after all) he’s still her brother and must have been devastated by her death. Maybe he’s reexamining his life and realized he should have done more, and this is a belated attempt to stand up for his sister.
    His remarks about fact vs fiction, considering he’s an historian, seem fine to me. The dig at “Americans” could have been left out.

  8. ABritGuest says:

    What’s funny about the Crown is people are actually researching whilst or after watching an episode to see what is true or not. They are also watching the various royal documentaries on Netflix etc. So I don’t think the average person watches the show and thinks this is exactly what went down.

    I think Earl Spencer is getting in complaints early in case of unfavourable portrayal in season 5.

    I think it’s silly to suddenly make a big thing about inaccuracies when you haven’t through the show’s whole run. And they are lucky so far they didn’t include details like Charles other married mistress & other proposals, violent outbursts, Anne’s affair, the Lord Mountbatten allegations & relationships with paedophiles like Jimmy Saville, Peter Ball etc. Saville scenes were specifically cut from this season.

    I think the Crown will be nice to the Firm in the end as it’s made by an all British crew who won’t want to miss out on gongs. but seeing how much controversy the Firm is generating with their complaints & how that might be translating into curiosity and more streams, I would tread carefully

  9. Lightpurple says:

    He has always struck me as opportunistic, trying to profit off his sister. This does nothing to change that view.

    ETA and didn’t he provide “royal coverage” on American television during the 1980s?

  10. Lorelei says:

    I met this guy once, back in 2001. I was living in London and one of my friends, who also loved Diana, came to visit me and we went to Althorp one day.
    When we went into the gift shop, he was just…hanging out in there. He was literally leaning against the counter near the cash register waiting for people to notice him. When my friend and I went to pay for our stuff, he asked us if we wanted him to autograph the books we were buying. At the time I guess maybe we were awestruck at actually speaking to Diana’s brother, but looking back it seems so pathetic.

    ETA I find it so offensive that so many people think “Americans” need to be reminded that The Crown isn’t real. We’re not a monolith of morons (although we do have millions of them, clearly), and most people are aware that they are not watching a documentary. It’s so insulting the way they point it out, as if we all just fell off the turnip truck yesterday and they need to condescendingly tell us how things work.

  11. yo-yo says:

    The woman in the purple looks fabulous! That’s all i got.

  12. Jaded says:

    The Earl Spencer is a deceitful, sleazy adulterer who had a string of affairs when his first wife was in a sanitarium undergoing treatment for anorexia. He abandoned her and their 4 children, one of whom was only 4 months old. He likewise abandoned his second wife and refused to let her live in a small house he owned in London after the separation. He then took up with an American woman who moved to the UK to be with him and then sent her packing after a few months. He wouldn’t let Diana come back to Althorp when her marriage to Charles fell apart – said it was because he didn’t want the paps hanging around. When she wrote him a few letters asking why he returned them unopened. He once tried to seduce his best friend’s wife while said best friend was in jail for some sort of insurance fraud. The list goes on and on….he’s a bully, a cad and all-round awful person.

    • Amber says:

      Yikes he sounds terrible. I can’t help noticing that disordered eating seems to follow the Spencers around with Charles’ poor first wife. Diana’s older sister also suffered from anorexia, exacerbated by a bad breakup, and Diana had bulimia. It just goes to show how the social order/social expectations of “upper crust” society can be so mentally distressing to people that they develop unhealthy coping mechanisms.

  13. Amy Bee says:

    If the story is true he tried, with advice from William, to stop Harry from marrying Meghan so I’m not here for him. This whole campaign for the truth is really about absolving the press and himself of the guilt they have in Diana’s death and an attempt to re-write history. I suspect that he may also be the “source” close to Harry who spoke to the press last weekend. The person was quite concerned about Harry and William’s relationship and I don’t think Harry is actually that concerned about his relationship with his brother.

    • Tessa says:

      It was never said whether or not he backed William or how far he went. to “advise” Harry. Maybe he backed off considering he had three wives and two ended in divorce. I think WIlliam will not change and perhaps dreams of his brother leaving his wife and child and run back home. Harry would not leave his family no matter how incandescent his brother gets.

    • Lorelei says:

      It’s also interesting that Diana’s sisters were both in the formal photo from Archie’s christening, but not him. That might lend credibility to the story that he tried to help William stop the marriage from going forward?

  14. Redgrl says:

    Was it a Monty Python skit that coined the term “upper class twit?” Because Charlie is certainly one of those with his ludicrous sense of entitlement and grandeur, his multiple infidelities, his complete failure to help Diana when she was alive. He’s a pompous fool as far as I’m concerned.

  15. Courtney B says:

    Snide comment about Americans when his great grandmother was one of the Dollar Princesses who brought money into his mother’s side of the family. (Though she divorced her hubby after a decade of marriage on the grounds of desertion before he became Baron Fermoy and her dad made sure none of the money he left her would go to him. He also made Roche relinquish custody of their children in exchange for paying his copious debts. ) side note—actor Oliver Platt is also her great great grandson like William and Harry.

  16. molly says:

    Genetics are so weird. THIS is who George looks like at this point. It’ll be interesting to see if he gets the long Windsor eventually, because everything, nose and below, is total Spencer.

    • Tessa says:

      George unfortunately will probably look more like a Windsor with eyes like his Granddad Michael. THe same large teeth of William. I see a lot of Hanoverian features in WIlliam also.

  17. Professor Plum says:

    The fact that he’s billing himself as an historian—without the benefit of graduate training—is hilarious. Whatever, dude.

  18. Murphy says:

    He knows there will probably be a scene or two next season that will make him out to be a prig just as much as the rest of them.

  19. tcbc says:

    What I’m most interested in seeing next season is if The Crown addresses the racialized abuse that Diana’s lovers received – both Dodi and the British-Pakistani doctor she was actually in love with. If the show is honest, the parallels between the public and the press’ treatment of those men and the way the same groups treat Meghan today will be undeniable. I think that’s one thing all of the (white) posh Brits are concerned about but too smart to say directly.

  20. Sunnyvale says:

    I hope people keep in mind how none of Diana’s kids is close to this guy. I mean harry only invited her sisters and of the two he has always been close to his aunties especially Jane. This guy is doing damage control for when the crown shows his betrayal of his sister and how he played part in her eventual untimely death by not allowing her to stay at the family estate. Diana felt isolated and wanted desperately to be loved and supported hence why she settled with dodi who promised to care for her and her boys

  21. PS says:

    Hmm, I have mixed thoughts about this. I do think he has a point here that it is very easy to confuse fiction with fact. Obviously, you’d have to be a complete moron if you took everything on the show at face value and a quick Google search will show you how actual events differed. But, I think what he’s getting at here is that it’s easy to unknowingly make assumptions that end up informing your understanding of these people and their actual lives.

    Also, as for his estate, I can’t speak for him but I do know that it’s very common for British aristocrats to open up their estates to the public as a means to help raise funds for its upkeep (they’re notoriously expensive to run). While I would feel weird going to see Diana’s grave and wouldn’t do it, a) I understand why the Brits would, she meant something so different to them than she did to us Americans and b) she’s technically royal and like royalty, people visit your grave, it just is what it is.

  22. Mignionette says:

    The BRF have had his balls in a vice for a few years now. I wonder what they have on him, bc all of a sudden he capes for them, even against Harry.

    I think he wants to be in Bill’s good graces above all else.

  23. NYStateofMind says:

    At the end of the day none of us need to be lectured on what occurred. He’s being ridiculous. There is truth in the show. He should just shut up. That picture he tweeted says enough. Indicative of who he is. A piece of garbage. He doesn’t need the Crown to make us dislike him.

  24. Gorgonia says:

    this is a poor excuse of a brother. I consider the Spencers just as guilty as the royal family. They simply didn’t have to allow the marriage, knowing the whole situation and Lady Di’s extreme sensitivity. But they were all too happy to have a connection with the royal family to care about the happiness of a 19-year-old girl. Obviously The Crown is a fiction, but it is a fiction based on real events, the interviews of the time confirm everything. And they are also too respectful of the royal family, in the end they describe Charles as a man in love with the same woman for years, when in reality this was not the case.