Princess Diana’s Mother ‘Wasn’t Cut Out for Maternity’ Says Charles Spencer

When Princess Diana began dating Prince Charles and they eventually wed, the Princess of Wales assumed she would finally be getting the fairytale life she’d always dreamed of. Just 19 when she wed the prince, Princess Diana’s entire life had been unsteady and unstable leading up to that point.

Though she came from a noble background, the princess watched her parents’ toxic marriage until they eventually divorced, which deeply affected her. She wanted something different for herself, which is why she’d assumed she met her match with the future Crowned King.

Likewise, when she had her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, Princess Diana always spoke up for them, insisting that they had happy and well-rounded childhoods. It was the opposite of what her mother gave her.

Lady Diana Spencer, later to become Princess Diana, Princess of Wales pictured at the kindergarten at St. George's Square, Pimlico, London, where she works as a teacher, 18th September 1980
Lady Diana Spencer, later to become Princess Diana, Princess of Wales pictured at the kindergarten at St. George’s Square, Pimlico, London, where she works as a teacher, 18th September 1980 | Bill Rowntree/Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

Princess Diana’s parents had a very difficult marriage

When Princess Diana was born on July 1, 1961, her parents, John Spencer, Viscount Althorp, and Francis Spencer were deeply disappointed. She was another girl, and the viscount had been desperately hoping for a boy. “Both parents were crazy to have a son and heir, and there comes a third daughter, Princess Diana told Andrew Morton in Diana: Her True Story.  “What a bore … I’ve recognized that now. I’ve been aware of it, and now I recognize it and that’s fine. I accept it.”

Though the Spencer’s eventually did have their son, with Princess Diana’s younger brother, Charles Spencer, their marriage was challenging and unhappy. Princess Diana and her siblings were raised by nannies mostly and she often saw her mother crying.

That all changed when Princess Diana’s parents divorced when she was just seven and Lord Spencer won custody of all of his children, The princess recalled her parents’ divorce as a “very wishy-washy and painful experience.”

Princess Diana (1961 – 1997) at a State Dinner in Saint John, New Brunswick, during the Royal Tour of Canada, 17th June 1983. She is wearing the Spencer tiara. | Tim Graham/Getty Images

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Princess Diana was shipped off to boarding school

Brought up by nannies, though her father was present, Princess Diana felt a wave of unhappiness from the beginning of her life. “I always felt very different from everyone else, very detached,” she explained to Morton. “I knew I was going somewhere different but had no idea where.”

Unfortunately, just as she was settling into life with her father, the princess was shipped away to boarding school. She was just nine when she was sent to Riddlesworth Hall and she recalled being distraught about the entire situation.

“If you love me, you won’t leave me here,” she recalled telling her father.

Princess Diana’s brother says their mother was not ‘cut out for maternity’

Princess Diana’s terror about being sent off to school and later feeling abandoned in her own marriage, all steemed back to issues with her mother, according to her brother

“Diana and I had two older sisters who were away at school, so she and I were very much in it together and I did talk to her about it,” Spencer told Sunday Times. “Our father was a quiet and constant source of love, but our mother wasn’t cut out for maternity. Not her fault, she couldn’t do it.”

In fact, the 9th Earl Spencer recalls watching his sister crumble under their mother’s abandonment. He remembered,

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. She could hear me crying down the corridor but was too scared of the dark to come to me.