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So when he walked out on them last summer it came as a shock to many - not least Caroline, who had no idea why her husband should suddenly decide to leave.While there is no suggestion of infidelity, it does now appear that Coleen, whose looks have attracted comparisons to the Hollywood starlet Scarlett Johansson, may have had something to do with his decision.In an exclusive interview from his modest home in the tiny town of Santa Cruz, Mr Sullivan said: "Before I met Charles, during two visits he made here, I checked him out on the internet -which gives you far more information than any police database, if you know where to look."Several things gave me cause for concern so the second time I met him, when we were alone together for two hours over coffee, I got it off my chest."I said to him, "Obviously you're a man of 42 and my daughter is 34 so there's nothing I can say that will stop you two from doing what you want to do.However I do have a few questions"."I discussed these highly personal matters with Charles and I did tell him, "Don't mess with my daughter." After our talk, he told me he'd been quite nervous and hoped that he'd put my mind at rest."I worked on the team when she was a kid and she knows how to use a gun. This is not a woman who is going to let any man mess her around."The warning stands in stark contrast to the way that the Earl has behaved in his previous relationships.During his bitter 1997 divorce from Victoria, a former model, it was revealed that he had been a 'callous adulterer' and an unsympathetic spouse who had taken a string of mistresses while his wife was being treated for an eating disorder and drug addiction in a rehabilitation clinic.The news has raised more than a few eyebrows among Spencer's aristocratic circles - but they are not the only ones to have shown their concern.Across the Atlantic, in a small town 72 miles south of San Francisco, police sergeant Michael Sullivan has more reservations than most about this latest unlikely chapter in the Earl's chequered love life. And as a highly-trained firearms expert and former member of the city's elite SWAT team, he is not afraid to voice his concerns or be cowed by a British Earl, even if he is the uncle of the future King of England.
But she then accepted the Earl's invitation to spend Christmas in Cape Town with the four children from his ill-fated marriage to Victoria, who now lives there.
All of which makes a recent meeting in America all the more extraordinary.
For finally, perhaps for the first time ever, it seems that Earl Spencer has met his match... Last week, it was confirmed that Princess Diana's brother has begun a relationship with US television presenter Coleen Sullivan.
True, Justin had just taken a job in Florida which kept him away from home but the problem didn't seem insurmountable.
Certainly there was never any suggestion of another man - let alone the brother of the late Princess of Wales.
I told him that I've been a cop for 36 years and I like to think I'm a good judge of character. I see that there is some of the goodness of Princess Diana in him.