Earl Charles Spencer, Princess Diana’s baby brother and the father of royal fan-favourite Lady Kitty Spencer, is a busy man. He just became a great-uncle to Prince Louis, had a golden ticket to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding and, one week later, was at Toronto’s Kennedy Galleries to unveil a new set of furniture for the Living History collection based on antiques from Althorp Estate, where he and Diana lived as children. Here, he talks about being raised in a Downton Abbey-esque manse, and updating heirloom furniture for modern bums.
Growing up at Althorp as a young boy, were there any rules about playing on the furniture? Yes, my grandfather was a formidable figure. He was relic of the pre-First World World era, and he cared more about the house than people. He would give very strict lectures. We basically couldn’t touch anything. It was quite scary to be honest. But when I took over as a young man, at 27, I let my children have the run of the place. Of course I didn’t let my kids play with porcelain or things that would break. But actually, for the house, I think it is better if it is enjoyed as a home.
In 1970, when Karl Subban was 12 years old, he discovered hockey. His parents, a diesel mechanic and a seamstress, had moved him and his three brothers from Portland Cottage, Jamaica, to Sudbury. They were one of the few black families in a predominantly French neighbourhood called Flour Mill. Karl’s parents bought him a pair of skates at the Salvation Army, which helped him make friends. Soon he was playing pick-up games with the French kids, worshipping the Habs and imagining he was Ken Dryden.
As the years passed, Karl remained obsessed with the sport. He graduated from Lakehead University and began working as an elementary school teacher. He met his wife, Maria, a quality control analyst at CIBC Mellon, at a New Year’s party in 1981. Together, they bought a four-bedroom house on a winding Rexdale street just north of the Woodbine Racetrack and had five kids: Nastassia, Natasha, Pernell Karl (who goes by P. K.), Malcolm and Jordan.
In the June 25, 2012 issue of The New Yorker, staff writer Adam Gopnik notes that “we are about to enter that period, which occurs every four years, when [we] become passionate about athletes we have never heard of participating in games we do not follow trying to please judges we cannot see according to rules we do no know.” He attributes our irrational infatuation with the Olympics to nationalism, or internationalism, or something else very brainy, yet he fails to underscore why most of us really tune in. Hot jocks! I don’t know a thing about rhythmic gymnastics or synchronized swimming, but I’m always willing to watching tight buns, and biceps and brawn. Here’s who I will be eying in London (and because I’m such a good nationalist, they are all from Canada’s team).
Is he really Canada’s Messiah? No, that’s insane. But the Thornhill native is the highest ranked singles tennis player in Canadian history (he’s currently no. 22 in the world), and, at the young age of 21, has already won over a $1 million in prize. Plus, he’s 6’5″ tall. Just saying.