Prince William and Prince Harry have spoken out about the “extremely concerning” findings and “unethical practices” brought to light by an investigation into their mother’s famous interview.
A new report found that the BBC used “deceitful” measures to secure Princess Diana’s interview for the network’s Panorama program in 1995, during which she shared bombshell revelations about the dissolution of her marriage to Prince Charles, CNN reported.
Journalist Martin Bashir, who hosted the sit-down, showed fake bank statements to Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, which “deceived and induced him to arrange a meeting” with the princess, according to the investigation.
The BBC has issued a “full and unconditional apology” in light of the report, which follows a six-month independent probe into the broadcaster. BBC’s director-general, Tim Davie, said the interview “fell far short of what audiences have a right to expect.” The network said it also wrote to Diana’s sons, Princes Harry and William.
In a statement addressing the investigation, the Duke of Cambridge said, “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.
“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.”
In a separate statement, the Duke of Sussex said, “Our mother was an incredible woman who dedicated her life to service. She was resilient, brave, and unquestionably honest. The ripple effect of a culture of exploitation and unethical practices ultimately took her life.”
Former BBC graphic designer Matt Wiessler previously admitted that he forged bank documents after Bashir approached him. He raised concerns with the network after the interview aired, worried he had played a role in “obtaining the interview by deception,” per the report.
The BBC conducted an internal investigation into the interview in 1996, which addressed the forged documents but ruled that they didn’t influence Diana’s participation, according to CNN. The new probe, however, criticized the previous inquiry and said that the BBC “covered up” facts.
Bashir stepped down from his role as BBC’s religion editor last week, citing health reasons.
What is the interview?
In 1995, three years after Princess Diana and Prince Charles announced their separation and one year before they formally divorced, Diana appeared in a sit-down interview on BBC’s investigative program, Panorama, to speak candidly about their relationship and her time in the palace.
Much like Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s conversation with Oprah Winfrey, Diana’s talk with Bashir was full of bombshell revelations that shook the palace, most notably her response to Charles’s relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles.
“Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded,” Diana famously said, when Bashir asked if Camilla contributed to “the breakdown of [her] marriage.”
She also addressed how the royal household treated her differently, especially after her and Charles’s separation was announced. “People’s agendas changed overnight,” she said. “I was now separated wife of the Prince of Wales, I was a problem, I was [seen as] a liability, and how are we going to deal with her? This hasn’t happened before.”
Can I watch it online?
Currently, the full interview is not streaming online, though some clips have made their way to YouTube and other forms of social media. The full transcript is available to view here, however.
CNN reported that BBC Panorama is airing a documentary about the controversy surrounding the interview tonight at 7 p.m. GMT/2 p.m. ET. This won’t be the first project revisiting the infamous program. Last year, the United Kingdom’s Channel 5 released the documentary Diana: The Interview That Shocked the World. It was supposed to start streaming on Netflix in April 2021 but was indefinitely postponed in light of Prince Philip’s death.
What else have Prince Harry and Prince William said?
In the rest of his statement today, Prince Harry thanked those who have “taken some form of accountability” and called the investigation “the first step towards justice and truth.” But he pointed to a larger issue of unethical journalistic practices and the spread of misinformation.
“Our mother lost her life because of this, and nothing has changed,” Harry said. “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.”
In today’s statement, William also said that “what saddens” him most about the investigation findings 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.” He expressed that Panorama “holds no legitimacy and should never be aired again.”
The duke concluded, “These failings, identified by investigative journalists, not only let my mother down, and my family down; they let the public down too.”
William previously released a statement in November 2020 to show his support for the probe. “The independent investigation is a step in the right direction,” he said at the time. “It should help establish the truth behind the actions that led to the Panorama interview and subsequent decisions taken by those in the BBC at the time.”
Tabloids came for Harry for not publicly addressing the investigation as his brother did, but a source close to the Duke of Sussex called the criticism “utterly horrid and offensive.”
“Harry is getting regular updates and is aware of everything that is happening,” the insider previously told BAZAAR.com. “You do not need a public statement to imagine how he is feeling privately, people know how much his mother means to him. He has bravely spoken out in the past about loss and grief, and the immense impact it has had on him.”
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