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Princess Diana’s brother Earl Spencer: My son had nightmares about my school abuse ordeal | Royal | News

Princess Diana’s brother Earl Spencer: My son had nightmares about my school abuse ordeal | Royal | News
Princess Diana’s brother Earl Spencer: My son had nightmares about my school abuse ordeal | Royal | News


Princess Diana’s younger brother has admitted his harrowing account of abuse at boarding school has given one of his own sons nightmares.

In his memoir A Very Private School, Earl Spencer, 59, has detailed physical and sexual assaults he suffered at the exclusive Maidwell Hall prep school in Northamptonshire.

Public reaction to his devastating book has been “incredibly generous”, he told the Express, but it has had a devastating effect on his son Louis, 30.

The earl said: “I showed him an earlier draft of it and he had to stop reading it because he was having nightmares.

“So he just stopped reading it – he just couldn’t bear it.”

The father of seven, said two of his sons had decided to be weekly boarders in their mid-teens.

“My second son, who’s 20 now, really wanted to do it because he had a half-brother from his mother’s side who had gone to that school and had done well. But he really struggled.”

He added: “The school was incredibly kind and they let me and his mother take him out every Wednesday.

“We took it in turns, staying in a pub near the school.

“But I was so worried about him. I thought, ‘God, what are you doing?’ I obviously admire him for sticking with it, but I wish he hadn’t because, although he ended up with great friends, it was very traumatising.”

Earl Spencer has now called for a national debate about the ethics of separating very young children from their families and sending them away to boarding schools after revealing his own abuse between the ages of eight and 13.

The school has reported itself to the local authority following the historical claims.

“I don’t know if there should be a public inquiry, but I think there should be a public examination of whether pre-13-year-olds should be sent away,” Earl Spencer told the Daily Express.

“I think parents should think very, very strongly before sending away their children, certainly before the age of 13 or 14.”

He added: “As parents, we have to be incredibly vigilant. I genuinely don’t think most of the parents who sent their boys to Maidwell thought they were going to be sexually abused or physically hurt, but they were still subcontracting their kids to the care of people they didn’t know anything about.”

Former pupils and friends urged the historian and peer to expose the regime of former headmaster John Alexander Hector Porch, known as Jack, who died aged 95 in 2022.

Earl Spencer said: “There’s one, this guy I hadn’t seen for years, and he was just such a sweet kid at school, but wasn’t good at sport, he wasn’t academic, so he was treated as an irrelevance. And he told me about the extraordinary impact on his life.

“He was raped three times when he was nine years old at the school. And it was only when his son got to nine that he had a breakdown. He grabbed me and said, ‘You’ve got to tell our story’.”

Following revelations from Earl Spencer’s book last week, Maidwell Hall said in a statement: “It is difficult to read about practices which were, sadly, sometimes believed to be normal and acceptable at that time.

“Almost every facet of school life has evolved significantly since the 1970s. At the heart of the changes is the safeguarding of children and promotion of their welfare.”

The school added that it had referred allegations to the “local authority designated officer” and urged anyone with similar stories to contact the officer or the police.


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