They are calling it the divorce of the decade as Princess Diana's brother Earl Spencer all too evidently tries to avoid paying his wife Victoria anything but a relatively minimal sum in divorce settlement. The man who attacked the royal family at Diana's funeral and accused the tabloid press of hounding her is being revealed as a bit of a bounder himself. The preliminary case - about where the actual divorce hearing should be held - is being fought out in Cape Town. The Earl, Charles Spencer, hopes that is where the ultimate battle will be held because his estranged wife will get a lower settlement there than the GBP7 million (HK$91 million) she might win in Britain. The saga all centres around his phenomenal wealth in the UK, and the bevy of former girlfriends who are lining up to tell the world what a swine the guy is. Wife Victoria, whom the Earl, it is claimed, drove to drink and drugs through his catalogue of affairs, claims she is struggling to live on GBP5,000 overdraft while the Earl's family fortune stands at about GBP100 million, his personal assets at GBP6 million and a net annual income of GBP1 million. Central to the episode is the implication that if a judge should award a halfway decent settlement to Victoria then the Althorp estate will crumble - and along with it the sceptred isle in the middle of a lake within which Diana's body is buried. Of course the tabloid press in Britain loves the story - after all it was the sobbing Lord Spencer who personally banned tabloid editors from Diana's funeral. He further claims that if he gives her more than the GBP300,000 lump sum, GBP250,000 for a house and GBP2,500 to live on a month, she will only go and blow it all on drugs anyway. How thoughtful of him to have her welfare at heart. Some ridiculous dirt is oozing out - vicious comments by the Earl about his wife: 'She is thin and certainly thick' - along with his phenomenal greed. He banned her from attending Diana's funeral and wasn't even polite to his mistresses, crudely dumping them with a phone call. It may be the true side of the Spencer family which at times in history has been more powerful than the royal family itself. They have been mean in the past too. Despite that wealth, the current Earl's grandfather made his son Johnnie wear clothes that were too small and patched up. Johnnie in turn was desperate for a son and despatched his wife Frances to a top London doctor to see if there was a gynaecological reason why she only bore girls. Eventually Charles Spencer was born. He adopted a similar tactic with wife Victoria. While he was attending to the desires of an alleged 12 mistresses he also rushed her through bearing him four children until a boy, Louis, Viscount Althorp, was born. It seems clear that Charles Spencer, who gained much sympathy over Diana's death, is now revealed as the cad - to use that very English term - he really is. Once Victoria had achieved the desired result - a male heir - then she might as well be thought of as a mere chattel, to be discarded as having done her bit for family history. But Lord Spencer is living in different times from earlier occupants of Althorp House. Victoria may be frail and unstable but she has found allies among the mistresses that like her were tossed aside. They are not, as they say, prepared to take it all lying down.