Princess Diana’s father led liberation of two French villages in WWII, her brother reveals
Maybe benevolence is genetic.
Princess Diana, who was widely known for her charity work, has been gone for 22 years, but her brother Charles Spencer says he’s only recently “unearthed” their father’s own heroism during World War II.
“I think most people remember my father from my sister Diana’s wedding,” Spencer, the 9th Earl Spencer and former “Today” correspondent, told the morning show in an interview that aired Wednesday.
Diana’s widely televised nuptials to Prince Charles was a “very proud moment" for their father, but Spencer notes, “Of course he had his own story.”
“My family and I really didn’t know anything about my father’s war service beyond the bare minimum. So I’d always had this question mark as to what he had done," he explained.
Answers came in the form of an “out of the blue” letter Spencer, 55, received in recent years, which asked if Spencer knew of a Lt. Althorp, explaining, “'We have records that he was involved in our liberation.”
Lt. Althorp, Spencer wrote back, was his father John Spencer, who died in 1992, just five years before Diana’s sudden death following a car crash in Paris, France, on Aug. 31, 1997. The princess, and mother to princes William and Harry, was just 36 years old.
At 20 years old, John Spencer “led a small force of British troops who liberated two Norman villages, La Vieille-Lyre and La Neuve-Lyre, 80-odd miles west of Paris,” Charles Spencer wrote for “Today," in honor of the 75th anniversary of 1944's D-Day.
Princess Diana through the years
“Like many of his generation, he chose not to talk about his wartime experiences,” Spencer wrote of his father, explaining in the interview, that, "Now I feel I’ve finally unearthed what he did.”
The late princess also was known for her good deeds, particularly charity work with victims of AIDS, landmines, and children battling cancer.