Fast-forward two decades and Spencer has returned to the British capital, though between jaunts in Europe, South Africa and, now, Australia, she’s spent only nine nights at home this year. The self-described nomad makes it her mission to meld each trip with charity work (days before our shoot, she was at a Telethon fundraiser in Perth), pleasure (climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, “breathtakingly beautiful”) and modelling engagements.
Her first major fashion foray came in 2017, when Dolce & Gabbana asked her to walk in their millennial-themed real-people runway show. “I was initially hesitant, but then I thought, if I don’t do it now – when the category is millennials and real people – [I never will],” she says. “And it was Dolce & Gabbana, so I felt confident that they’d be good with curves and feminine shapes.”
After her high-glamour turn on the catwalk, opportunities flowed. Last year, Spencer became an ambassador for luxury Italian jewellery house Bulgari, a natural fit for a woman who counts Sophia Loren as her style icon. "It's an amazing brand to work with," she comments, gesturing to the seductive Serpenti bracelet coiled delicately around her wrist (above). No surprise, then, that she turned to Bulgari when getting dressed for her cousin’s wedding – that is her cousin Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex.
The royal wedding on May 19, 2018, proved significant for Spencer beyond her decadent jewels. Catapulted to the top of every best-dressed list in hand-painted green Dolce & Gabbana, she awoke the next morning to nearly half a million new Instagram followers. “I thought I was in someone else’s account,” she recalls. “I turned off my phone – it was a bit overwhelming. I felt like someone was watching me!” Now, though, she’s settled into the groove, and uses the social media platform to share snippets of her life with a mainly adoring audience. “I’m lucky, I get lovely messages,” she says, adding, “It takes a lot to ruffle my feathers, and it’s not going to be a negative Instagram comment.”
Since Spencer captured the public attention, parallels with her aunt, Princess Diana, have been rife – not just for her graceful beauty and eye for style, but also for her philanthropic pursuits. “I’m proud to say that a lot of my family members have been really big on giving back – and personally I’ve been [motivated by what I’ve seen] growing up in South Africa, where there’s such a huge divide between the haves and the have-nots,” she says. “I think it’s our responsibility to find what matters to us and get behind it and push for change.”
Her piercing blue eyes light up as she talks about the causes she actively supports: Youth Focus, a suicide prevention charity; Give Us Time, an organisation that supports British military families; and youth homelessness charity Centrepoint, of which her cousin Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, is patron. She’ll be back in the UK soon to carry out her philanthropic duties, but not before hopping across to Seattle and New York, then down to South Africa to visit her mum and beloved obese cat, Baby D. “He’s my firstborn son,” she giggles. “I’ll FaceTime him tonight.”
Lucky for technology – as this globetrotting slashie isn’t planning on slowing down or staying put anytime soon, quietly sharing that she also has a film project in the works.
Lady Kitty Spencer: actress. Add that to the international arrivals card.
This story appears in the August 2019 issue of marie claire.