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'If you loved me, you wouldn't leave me here' - Charles Spencer reveals Princess Diana’s poignant words to her father on being sent to boarding school

 Charles Spencer.
Charles Spencer.

In an interview with the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg, Charles Spencer has revealed shocking details about the time he spent boarding at prep school Maidwell Hall in Northamptonshire, where he was sent at the age of eight.

Both Charles and his sister, Diana Spencer, were sent away to boarding school at a young age, the horrifying details of his own experience documented in a new book, A Very Private School. When interviewed about the book's details, Kuenssberg said: 'Page, after page, after page describes terrible violence and clearly what seems like forms of pedophilia – terrible abuse'.

Spencer started the interview describing his confusion at his parents' decision. He spoke of letters he sent home, in which he apologised a lot as the only way he could make sense of being sent away was that he had somehow 'failed as a son'. When asked about how Diana felt about being send to boarding school, Kuenssberg quoted the Earl's book, in which he revealed the Princess told her father 'If you loved me, you wouldn't leave me here'.

A Very Private School | RRP: £25 £20.09 at Amazon
Make no mistake, this is no easy read, as Charles Spencer recounts the horrifying details of his time at boarding school, where he was sent from the age of eight. The Daily Telegraph gave it a five-star review – "A painstaking and traumatic process, but one for which any reader must surely give a cheer'.View Deal

"I was so proud of her for saying that," Spencer said. "It's so incredibly impactful, to the point that my father remembered it. I don't think any child should sent away before they hit puberty."

But Earl Spencer was clear about not blaming his parents. "I know my father hated doing it, in fact he told me that was the worst day of his fathering for me. I don't blame my parents for thinking it was the done thing at that time. I think the idea was that it was essential to blend with people from similar backgrounds, and take the hard knock, the real sort-of brutal heartbreak of being sent away from home and in return you were going to be privileged, and part of a set that you could rely on for the rest of your life.

Speaking at his 18th Century London home, Earl Spencer went on to explain the sickening details of the abuse he suffered. When asked what he thought Diana would have made of what he'd had been through he said: "I think she'd have been pretty cross, and appalled. I think she would have been stunned. And I think the fact that I went to such a tricky place, she would have found hard."

Decades have passed since his time at Maidwell Hall, but it didn't make recounting the experience any easier. Of writing the book, Earl Spencer said: "It took me into very dark places inside of me, I had endless nightmares. I didn't know the appalling things that happened to some of my friends, and have come back and been in pieces. I had to go into a residential centre for treatment for trauma after finishing the book."

The full interview with Earl Spencer is available to watch on BBC iPlayer