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Princess Diana’s brother says trauma of sexual abuse at boarding school caused lifelong damage

Princess Diana’s brother has revealed he self-harmed due to the trauma of being sexually abused by a staff member at a boarding school he attended as a boy.

In his memoir A Very Private School, due out next week, the 59-year-old tells how he made himself sick and self-harmed due to the trauma of abuse he said took place at a school he attended during the 1970s.

In an extract of the book published in the Daily Mail, the earl writes that a predatory matron working at the school, aged 19 or 20, abused him when he was 11 years old, and that the abuse would include kissing and touching.

Princess Diana’s brother Earl Spencer (PA)
Princess Diana’s brother Earl Spencer (PA)

Earl Spencer said the matron was a “master of emotional manipulation” and, as a result, he was left “fraught at the prospect of losing her that I started cutting at the inside of my arm with a penknife” after she told him she might leave for a job in the military.

The royal also claimed another member of staff at the school beat him with the spikes of a cricket boot and knocked another boy unconscious as punishment. He also accused that staff member of selecting boys for naked swimming lessons, during which he said the teacher would become visibly sexually aroused.

“I’ve frequently witnessed deep pain, still flickering in the eyes of my contemporaries,” he writes. “Many of us left [the school] with demons sewn into the seams of our souls.”

The British peer has previously told TES magazine that he suffered six months of sleepless nights before he was sent to the institution at the age of eight, and said he had pleaded “to go to a state school because it must be preferable to 13-week blocks away in a rather cold and unpleasant place”.

After his time at the boarding school, Earl Spencer would go on to study at Eton and Oxford University, where he reportedly declined an invitation to join the Bullingdon Club alongside ex-prime ministers David Cameron and Boris Johnson.

He later became an on-air correspondent with NBC News, where he worked for a decade as a journalist and broadcaster. He has also worked as a book reviewer and has authored history books, including Althorp: The Story of an English House, about the estate where he grew up, which he previously described as “nightmarish”.

The earl inherited his father’s titles at the age of 27, six years before his sister Diana – who married the now King Charles, and was mother to Princes Harry and William – was killed in a car crash in Paris.

Last week, in an extract of the book published by The Sun, Earl Spencer revealed that he paid a sex worker £15 to lose his virginity while on a family holiday to Italy at the age of 12 - something he linked to the abuse allegedly suffered at the hands of the matron.

The 59-year-old wrote that he paid the woman with his pocket money while on a trip with his mother and stepfather, and said he did not sleep with another woman until he was 17 after it left him feeling “hollow and cold”.

He said: “The effect of what she did to me was profound and immediate, awaking in me basic desires that had no place in one so young.”