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For an impressionable child it was a nightmarish place." Harshness bred harshness - and a way with words which passes for wit inside his circle and for a form of brutishness outside.

He was upbraided by his parents for repeatedly calling his slower and less academically gifted sister "Brian" after the snail in The Magic Roundabout.

We will remember - as if we could ever forget - the flowers, the crowds, the dignified procession, silent except for the clatter of hooves and the mournful Abbey bell; the Princess of Wales's sons, brother, former husband and father-in-law walking straight-backed behind the coffin.

We had become horribly different at school because we had divorced parents and nobody else did at that time..." wrote Diana.

Divorce was less common than it is now, but when his father married Raine Spencer, the stepmother Charles loathed and called Acid Raine, no one told him about it in advance: the news was broken to him by his prep school headmaster.

For Charles Edward Maurice, the ninth Earl Spencer, his sister's funeral was the culmination of years of training.

After giving birth to two daughters, his mother had been sent to a Harley Street consultant to see why she produced only girls.At the Spencer family homes at Park House, Norfolk, and then Althorp, Northamptonshire, at school at Eton, then at Magdalen College, Oxford, he has been tutored in the aristocratic art of exhibiting elegance and correct manners in public while behaving quite appallingly in private. His hubris was a symptom of his class, of an inherited belief in a right to say, and do, exactly as he pleases. And he would have needed exceptional character to survive his upbringing.


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