As Charles, Earl Spencer, and his wife Karen, Countess Spencer, prepare to share more stories from Althorp House, the Northampton estate where Princess Diana spent her teen years, on their webseries Spencer 1508, the earl has been revisiting cherished memories from the house on his Instagram. To honor All Souls Day on Wednesday, Spencer shared a formal portrait of him, Diana, and their father, John, 8th Earl Spencer, at a party in 1989.

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“Today is All Souls Day—when it’s customary to remember the souls of those you love, who’ve departed: it is known in some parts of the world as the Day of the Dead,” he wrote in a caption. “A deeply poignant photograph for me from the summer of 1989, when there was a party at Althorp to mark my father’s 65th birthday earlier that year.”

The photo, which was taken by local studio John Roan Photography, shows Diana wearing a one-shouldered champagne-colored evening gown, a choker and a pair of drop earrings. 1989 was apparently a busy year at Althorp house. That May, Diana’s stepmother, Raine, celebrated her 60th birthday with a ball at the house, and in September, Charles married his first wife, Victoria, and held the reception at Althorp. Three years later, the elder Earl Spencer would die in a car accident.

In a 2021 interview with the Sunday Times, Spencer spoke about his close bond with his sister and father and distance from their mother, Frances Shand Kydd. “Our father was a quiet and constant source of love, but our mother wasn’t cut out for maternity,” he said. “Not her fault, she couldn’t do it,” he continued. “While she was packing her stuff to leave, she promised Diana [then aged five] she’d come back to see her. Diana used to wait on the doorstep for her, but she never came.”


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This week, Charles also shared a video to the Spencer 1508 YouTube channel where he honored the birthday of his paternal grandfather, Jack Spencer, who was the 7th Earl Spencer, and explained how Jack devoted his life to renovating and preserving Althorp House.

Listen to Vanity Fair’s DYNASTY podcast now.


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Erin Vanderhoof

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