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EXCLUSIVE
Royals

Princess Diana’s brother opens up about sexual abuse at age 11 by a female staff member at his boarding school: EXCLUSIVE

Charles Spencer spoke to TODAY about being sexually and physically abused while attending Britain's Maidwell Hall as a child.
/ Source: TODAY

Charles Spencer, Princess Diana’s brother, is opening up about alleged sexual and physical abuse by staff members at his boarding school when he was a child.

In his first television interview ahead of the release of his new memoir, “A Very Private School,” Spencer spoke with NBC News senior legal and investigative correspondent Cynthia McFadden.

Simon & Schuster

Spencer, 59, said he was sexually abused at 11 years old by a female staff member at Maidwell Hall, a private boarding school in Britain, during his time there in the 1970s. He also detailed to McFadden allegations of physical abuse by teachers and a headmaster.

“This is not a bunch of mid-teen, late-teen kids going through a rough school,” Spencer said about his time at Maidwell Hall. “This is children, being sexually, physically and emotionally abused on a daily basis.”

He said his most haunting encounter came with a young adult female member of the staff in charge of taking care of the boys, who were under 13 years old.

“She would come around to my bed when others were asleep, and kiss me, French kiss for ages, and it was so as such,” he said. “If I was 17, 18, it would be a different thing. But I was 11, and it was so confusing.”

Maidwell Hall told TODAY in a statement that it has notified the local authorities who investigate possible crimes against children. School officials are also encouraging any past students with similar experiences to come forward.

Spencer, who interviewed at least two dozen former students, alleged that the female staff member was sexually abusing other boys as well, including having intercourse with at least two of them.

“I’m embarrassed to say it was thrilling, especially in an emotional desert, but of course, it was terrible,” he said. “She pretended she was going to have to leave early to keep us all on tenterhooks. And I remember cutting myself. I thought if I hurt myself enough, then God will let her stay.”

Spencer, the only brother of the late Princess Diana and the uncle of future king Prince William, told McFadden that the alleged abuse led him to lose his virginity by secretly paying a sex worker during a trip to Italy with his mother when he was 12 years old.

“I had not had sexual intercourse with the predator,” he said. “And I took my pocket money, and I lost my virginity to a prostitute. And at the age of 12, I see that as the completion of what she had done to me.”

Spencer said he hired a private investigator years ago to track down the woman who allegedly abused him, and she was alive at the time. Spencer said it would be “too much” to confront her. Under British law, there is no statute of limitation for rape and sexual assault.

Before his time at Maidwell Hall, Spencer cherished his days at a local school he attended with Diana.

“Within four years I was 8, being sent off to a brutal place by myself,” he said. “Saying goodbye to Diana, who I grew up with, standing by my school trunk, the big chest with all my stuff.”

His time at Maidwell Hall remains fresh in his mind decades later.

“We were like prisoners,” he said. “We were prey to very bad people’s worst instincts.”

Spencer also spoke about the school’s headmaster, Mr. Porch, whom he called “a pedophile and a sadist.” The headmaster is no longer alive.

“He staffed the school himself with either people who are going along with what he was doing, or who were going to be mute about it,” he said.

Spencer, now a best-selling author and historian, said that growing up as the privileged godson of Queen Elizabeth II made no difference when it came to the alleged abusers at his boarding school.

“I told a friend of mine about this recently, and he said, ‘I just can’t believe you weren’t protected,’” Spencer said. “As if coming from this incredibly privileged background somehow would be protection against pedophiles and sadists. But there is no protection against those sorts of people.”

Spencer writes in his book that some of the teachers were also abusers.

“One particularly violent master caught me by myself in a changing room going out to play cricket,” he told McFadden. “And he just grabbed me and threw me over his knee, and cricket boots have metal spikes, and he beat me and beat me.”

During Spencer’s five years there, the school consisted of 75 boys under 13. They were expected to adhere to a shroud of secrecy about what occurred inside its walls.

“The most important code of this very flawed regime that I was part of was never to tell tales,” he said. “Every week, at least half a dozen would be whipped with a cane. And we all had showers together after sports, and you could see the blood, the split skin.”

The physical abuse begs the question of how the boys’ parents never asked questions about what was occurring at Maidwell Hall.

“I have a theory that the old money there sort of thought, ‘Well, this is going to make my son tougher and more successful,’” Spencer told McFadden. “And then people who had made money more recently thought, ‘Well, this is what they do. And we want to be part of this set.’”

Spencer said he didn’t tell anyone about the trauma until he was 42, when he revealed it to a therapist.

“He said, ‘Whisper to me one thing you’ve never told anyone,’” Spencer said. “And I said I was sexually abused by a woman when I was a child.”

Spencer dedicated his new book to “Buzz,” which was his childhood nickname before he attended Maidwell Hall.

“That was the boy who had part of him snuffed out during those five years at the school,” he said. “I wanted to reconnect with the carefree, happy little guy I was before I was sent to this place.”