In November 1995, the BBC aired what was then a head-turning interview with Diana, Princess of Wales, and conducted by a young reporter named Martin Bashir. In it, Diana, who was mother to Princes William and Harry, made a series of confessions and allegations, including that she’d had an affair with James Hewitt and that she had suffered from bulimia. It was during that interview that she had also made the comments about there being “three people in the marriage,” that Prince Charles’ staff were against her, and that Charles would not make a suitable king. It was after that interview that the queen told Charles and Diana to get a divorce (via BBC).
While the scoop won awards for Bashir and the BBC, the interview had life-changing consequences for Diana and as a result, her sons. The royal family were reportedly “shocked and horrified and very disappointed” by Diana’s decision to open up to Bashir — none more so than the queen; less than a year later, Diana died in a car accident (via The Independent).
Prince William: The interview made my parents' relationship worse
Now an inquiry has found that the interview was fraudulently obtained, and Martin Bashir, the journalist behind what was then seen as an award-winning scoop, had told lies and committed fraud — including forging bank statements — in order to secure it. A very angry Prince William says the lies that Bashir had used to convince his mother to speak would have had an influence on what she said during the fateful discourse.
“It is my view that the deceitful way the interview was obtained substantially influenced what my mother said. The interview was a major contribution to making my parents’ relationship worse and has since hurt countless others,” he said. “It brings indescribable sadness to know that the BBC’s failures contributed significantly to her fear, paranoia and isolation that I remember from those final years with her” (via Yahoo! News).
He added, “What saddens me most, is that if the BBC had properly investigated the complaints and concerns first raised in 1995, my mother would have known that she had been deceived. She was failed not just by a rogue reporter, but by leaders at the BBC who looked the other way rather than asking the tough questions.” William finished by calling on the BBC to never air the program again, because it established what he called “a false narrative which, for over a quarter of a century, has been commercialized by the BBC and others.”
Prince Harry: This is the first step towards justice and truth
Prince Harry also released a statement at the same time, saying, “To those who have taken some form of accountability, thank you for owning it. That is the first step towards justice and truth. Yet what deeply concerns me is that practices like these — and even worse — are still widespread today. Then, and now, it’s bigger than one outlet, one network, or one publication” (via People).
“Our mother lost her life because of this, and nothing has changed. By protecting her legacy, we protect everyone, and uphold the dignity with which she lived her life. Let’s remember who she was and what she stood for,” he said. Prince Harry was just 12 when his mother passed away, and the heartbreaking scene of him walking behind his mother’s coffin with his brother Prince William, grandfather Prince Philip, uncle Charles the Earl of Spencer, and father Prince Charles (via Today) is one that the world has not forgotten.
Royal expert believes Diana would have spoken out eventually
Social media was divided over the findings; one expressed sympathy for Diana, saying, “For someone as insecure as Diana, how awful she felt the isolation and paranoia enhanced by Bashir & bbc. And shame on #Charles for causing a lot of it #camilla. Poor Diana never knew the BBC’s deceit. Tragic all of it.” Others praised Prince William for the way he stepped forward: “At the moment I will never trust the #BBC . If that interview was never made. Who knows Princess Diana could be alive now. Bless William and Harry. William probably did see her paranoia being that bit older. Bless.”
Yet there were those, like the Evening Standard’s royal editor Robert Jobson who tweeted: “Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and both the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex have all received letters of apology from the #BBC over the #Panorama #Bashir. But would Diana have still done the interview? Maybe not with Bashir .. but of course she would.”
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