NewsDiana interview: Harry and William criticize the BBC

Diana interview: Harry and William criticize the BBC

For many viewers it was a spectacular confirmation, but for the royal family it was an unprecedented breach of taboo: In an interview with the BBC in 1995, Princess Diana also spoke about adultery.

London (AP) – The two sons of the British Princess Diana, who died in 1997, made drastic statements about an investigation into the legendary BBC interview with their mother.

The published report revealed that a reporter from the public service broadcaster had used forged documents to gain access to Diana. The BBC later covered up the wrongdoing.

Harry, 36, blamed the media for Diana’s death. “The ripple effect of a culture of exploitation and unethical practices ultimately cost them their lives,” Harry said, according to a release. Diana died in a car accident while fleeing paparazzi with her then boyfriend Dodi Al Fayed in Paris.

The interview made “a significant contribution” to the deterioration of his parents’ relationship, said William (38) in a video message. “It is my view that the fraudulent manner in which the interview was conducted substantially influenced what my mother said,” continued William.

“There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit tight.” The statements made by Princess Diana in the 1995 BBC interview about the infidelity of her husband Prince Charles are among the most famous sentences in British TV history.

But the conversation that the reporter Martin Bashir had at that time and which 200 million people worldwide followed, was the result of lies and deceit. A published investigation report found that Bashir deceived the princess and her brother Charles Spencer with forged records.

Diana’s revelations were a taboo break for the palace – with serious consequences. Reports of Charles’ alleged year-long affair with his current wife, Duchess Camilla, severely damaged the image of the royal family. Although the former dream marriage had long been broken, heir to the throne Charles only now filed for divorce. Diana subsequently lost the salutation Her Royal Highness – and with it personal protection. That was one reason for her accidental death in 1997, claimed Diana’s ex-private secretary Patrick Jephson: “Di” and her friend Dodi Al-Fayed could not have been shielded from the paparazzi on that tragic evening in Paris.

Diana’s brother also agreed with this assessment, as he told the BBC in a new interview. Diana was given the impression that she could not trust anyone. “This is a young girl in her mid-thirties who lived through this extraordinarily tumultuous and difficult time in public focus,” said Spencer. She didn’t know who to trust. “When she died two years later, she had no real protection,” continued Spencer.

The investigation report raises the question of whether Diana would have made the statements if she had not been tricked. Allegedly yes, the BBC reported in mid-November 2020 and referred to a handwritten note from the princess. In it, the mother of Prince William and Harry stated that forged documents did not play a role in their decision for the interview. Bashir, who has now apologized, is of the same opinion. William, 38 today, welcomed the review: “The independent investigation is a step in the right direction.”

The BBC apologized and fully accepted the results of the investigation. Written apologies were sent to Prince Charles, his sons William and Harry, and Spencer. Then-general manager John Birt said the BBC had employed a “rogue reporter”. “This is a shocking mark on the BBC’s ongoing commitment to honest journalism, and it is deeply unfortunate that it took 25 years for the full truth to come to light,” said Birt. Board chairman Richard Sharp spoke of “unacceptable mistakes”. It is no consolation that these are mistakes from the past.

It is mainly Diana’s younger brother who initiated the exam. This is probably also because Earl Spencer himself brought Bashir into contact with Lady Di in the first place. He saw a connection between his encounter with Bashir and the death of Diana, he told the BBC. In order to convince the siblings of the necessity of the interview, however, Bashir used unfair methods. For example, he produced fake bank statements designed to create the impression that people had been paid to divulge information about Diana. Spencer gave the former judge Lord John Dyson, who led the investigation, several handwritten notes that he had made during a preliminary interview with Bashir. He was duped, said Spencer. However, he only received proof of this last year.

The report also criticizes senior BBC executives trying to cover up the fraud. Both before and after the interview was published, numerous journalists were astonished to see how Bashir, a rather unknown BBC reporter at the time, got the princess in front of the camera. The then BBC news chief Tony Hall, until last summer General Manager, had taken Bashir under protection. Hall wrote to the supervisory board at the time that the reporter simply did not think about it. “I think he is honest and an honorable man despite his lapse. He’s contrite. ”Now he admitted mistakes.

Bashir, now 58, also apologized. He deeply regrets his actions. The interview was a huge coup for Bashir: he became a star reporter overnight, later switched to ITV and then worked for years as a presenter for the US broadcasters ABC and MSNBC. In 2016 he returned to the BBC as a religious correspondent. A few days ago, however, he submitted his resignation, for health reasons, as the BBC announced.

For the station, already under considerable pressure, the report comes at an inopportune time. Changed viewing habits, especially of younger people, cost the BBC a lot of money; from 2017/18 to 2019/20 the license fees, the most important source of income, fell by 310 million to 3.52 billion pounds (around 4 billion euros), as the Court of Auditors found. The Bashir case, for its part, could now have grave consequences.

So far there are no criminal investigations against the reporter or the broadcaster. But the explosiveness is great, Diana is still popular in Great Britain as the “Princess of Hearts”. On her 60th birthday on July 1st, her sons are to unveil a statue in London. The newspaper “Telegraph” now quoted a high-ranking source who compared the report with the telephone tapping scandal over “News of the World”. The tabloid had wiretapped the cell phone calls of thousands of crime victims and celebrities for years – and was discontinued soon after the case was exposed.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 210520-99-672842 / 6

“Telegraph”-Bericht (Paywall)

BBC via Diana handwritten note, November 2020

BBC on investigation report

BBC-Interview mit Prinzessin Diana


Princess Diana in conversation with BBC reporter Martin Bashir.

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