Princess Diana’s Brother Reveals Their Father Was a WWII Hero

After more than two decades after Princess Diana’s tragic death, her brother has revealed some surprising information about their father. Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, the 9th Earl Spencer, is promoting the “untold story” of their father who was a WWII hero.

The world first got a good look at John Spencer, the 8th Earl Spencer, on that glorious day in which he walked Princess Diana down the aisle to meet Prince Charles in 1981. John was recovering from a stroke at the time, but he made his way down the aisle with his daughter as millions of people watched on their television screens at home.

Charles Spencer received an interesting letter from a stranger

Charles Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer
Charles Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer | David Rogers/Getty Images

His son Charles spoke with NBC’s Today show exclusively about his father’s triumphs and bravery. Charles, himself a former on-air correspondent for Today, learned about his father’s bravery when he received a letter from someone in France whom he had never met.

His father was extremely patriotic and went into officer’s training and then made ready to join his fellow soldiers in the war effort. John actually led a British Army unit, whereas they proceeded to “liberate” La Neuve-Lyre and La Vieille-Lyre, two towns in France.

Charles didn’t know much about his father’s war stories

“My family and I really didn’t know anything about my father’s war stories beyond the bare minimum, so I always had this question mark as to what he had done,” Spencer explained on Today. “I got this letter out of the blue a few years ago, totally surprised, from this lady who was doing research in this area of Normandy.”

Today also took the time to interview June Gillis, who is an English teacher and librarian in Normandy, who made the discovery with Basil Kourotchkine, a local historian in the area.

Who is Viscount Althorp?

“The treasurer of the Veteran’s Association showed me his file. The story of Viscount Althorp when he actually came through and liberated these two villages,” explained Gillis. “But, the name Althorp didn’t mean anything really to people who don’t know the story of the Spencer family.”

Charles went on to explain how Gillis knew the name Althorp since she was from England. “She was from England originally, so she recognized the name Althorp, which is the name of this house,” Charles explained. “Lord Althorp is the title of the eldest son of this family. And so she wrote, ‘Your house is called Althorp. Do you know who a Lt. Althorp was? Was there a connection? And I went, ‘well actually, yes, it’s quite a direct connection. Because the man you’re talking about is my father.’”

Charles now feels closer to his father

John Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer
John Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer with his second wife Raine, Countess Spencer at Althorp | John Downing/Getty Images

“I was excited,” said Gillis. “People are very proud of the fact that Lady Di’s (Princess Diana) father liberated La Neuve-Lyre and La Vieille-Lyre. I mean if you look at a younger William, he looks just like him.”

Although Charles’ father died in 1992, he feels a little closer to him through the information discovered about his bravery. “Going back 75 years on gave me some answers,” Charles said. “All this time afterwards and now I feel I’ve finally sort of unearthed what he did.”

The villagers actually invited Charles to celebrate the anniversary of their freedom from Germany 75 years later. Princess Diana’s family has even more reasons to be proud of their history.