Earl Spencer shares the heartbreaking backstory behind this resurfaced photograph of Princess Diana

Earl Spencer, Princess Diana's brother, has given royal fans some background on the sibling snap that was likened to a Smiths album cover

Earl Spencer has shared the story behind a 1980 photo of him and Princess Diana (Photo by Len Trievnor/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Len Trievnor/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Earl Spencer has revealed the real story behind a resurfaced photo of him and Princess Diana—and it's not exactly a happy one. 

Earl Spencer, Princess Diana's brother, has shared the raw details behind a photo of him and Diana, explaining the real reason behind their glum faces. Charles Spencer, the youngest sibling of Lady Diana, weighed in on the throwback snapshot after it was shared publicly by a royal fan on Twitter. 

"That time Diana and her brother looked like they were on the cover of a Smiths album. So cool," Twitter user Rowan Marie wrote in a post forwarded on to Charles himself. The black-and-white image, captured in 'late 1980', shows the aristocratic brother and sister wearing dour expressions as they walk together in an English village. 

Taken just a few months before her wedding to Prince Charles, the outing was likely one of the last times Princess Diana spent quality time alone with her teenage sibling. 

"I was 16 and my sister was taking me out from @Eton College for lunch in @Hindsheadbray," Charles explained. But despite the pleasurable nature of the occasion, neither Diana nor Charles looked excited. It turns out that the photo was taken while the young duo was being hounded by paparazzi, who shadowed them on their 15-minute drive to the nearby British gastropub. 

"Her Mini Metro was followed by 12 cars & 1 motorbike of tabloid journalists," he said. The broadcaster went on to add, "Enough to make any teenager look as disdainful as Morrisey, frankly." 

At just 19, Diana was already the subject of intense media attention. Although her engagement to Prince Charles had yet to be announced, she was well-known in the press for her romantic involvement with the future King of England. The princess-to-be was quickly becoming immersed in royal life, having been invited aboard the Queen's Brittania yacht for a trip to Cowes and later to Balmoral Castle, the Royal Family's Scottish residence. Tipped as the British monarchy's 'one-to-watch' for the upcoming year, Diana was fast losing her right to privacy when in public. 

Earl Spencer and Princess Diana At The Birthright Red Ball

Earl Spencer and Princess Diana At The Birthright Red Ball in 1985

(Image credit: Getty Images)

However, her life still had all the hallmarks of an ordinary person's existence. She was living independently at a Knightsbridge apartment and making her own money as a nursery school teacher. 

She even cycled as her primary mode of transport, riding around London on the 'shame bike' she was eventually forced to sell. The bicycle has since been resold at an auction and Diana's former London flat, where she was 'happiest', has been honored with a blue plaque. 

Diana's relationship with Charles Spencer, who read the eulogy at her funeral, had always been strong. With just a three-year age gap, they were much closer to each other than to their significantly older sisters, Sarah and Jane. They became particularly close when their family split, sharing grief over the parents' separation. 

Earl Spencer playing with Lady Diana in the grounds of Park House, Sandringham when she was six years old. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Earl Spencer and Lady Diana grew very close after their parents' separation 

(Image credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

"She and I were very much in it together and I did talk to her about it," Charles told the Sunday Times last year. "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. While she was packing her stuff to leave, she promised Diana she'd come back to see her. Diana used to wait on the doorstep for her, but she never came."

Emma Dooney
Lifestyle News Writer

Hailing from the lovely city of Dublin, Emma mainly covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health and wellness feature. Always up for a good conversation, she has a passion for interviewing everyone from A-list celebrities to the local GP - or just about anyone who will chat to her, really.

Emma holds an MA in International Journalism from City, University of London, and a BA in English Literature from Trinity College Dublin.