Princes William and Harry have finally broken their silence on the explosive, tell-all interview of their late mother Princes Diana to BBC over 25 years ago, in which she spoke about her troubled marriage with Prince Charles.
In separate statements, the two heirs to the British throne have condemned the interview by calling it a deceitful affair on the part of the broadcaster. Their statements came after an independent inquiry concluded that the BBC “fell short of the high standards of integrity and transparency which are its hallmark”.
Both William and Harry blamed the controversial 1995 interview for Diana’s fear and paranoia that further damaged her relationship with Charles.
William said his mother was failed not just by the “rogue reporter” but by BBC bosses “who looked the other way rather than asking the tough questions”.
“The findings are very concerning, that BBC employees lied and used fake documents to obtain the interview with my mother, made lurid and false claims about the royal family, which played on her fears and fuelled paranoia,” William, the Duke of Cambridge, said in a video statement.
“(The BBC) displayed woeful incompetence when investigating complaints and concerns about the programme and were evasive in their reporting to the media and covered up what they knew from their internal investigation. It is my view that the deceitful way in which the interview was obtained substantially influenced what my mother said,” he said.
William, 38, who is second in line to the British throne, was 15 when Diana was killed in a car crash in Paris, two years after the interview in 1997.
In the video interview, William said his mother’s final years were full of grief. “The interview was a major contribution in 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,” he said.
“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, he said, branding the interview a false narrative which must never be aired again.
Toxic media culture killed my mother, says Harry
Prince Harry, William’s younger sibling and the Duke of Sussex, blamed a toxic media culture for his mother’s death.
He said the “ripple effect of a culture of exploitation and unethical practices” led to his mother’s death, adding that such practices are still widespread today.
“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,” Harry said.
Diana in the BBC interview with Martin Bashir sensationally claimed that there were “three of us” in her marriage to Prince Charles referring to Camilla, now his wife and Duchess of Cornwall. From giving details of her broken marriage with Charles to dealing with bulimia to leading a lonely life among the royals, Diana spoke about holding her head up in difficult and daunting situations.
The sit-down was a worldwide scoop as it was the first time a serving royal had spoken so openly about life in Britain’s royal family. But since then her brother, Earl Spencer, has claimed that Bashir had lied to get the interview and showed him forged bank statements in order to gain his confidence so that he would introduce him to Diana.
Lord John Dyson, the retired judge who led the inquiry, delivered his findings on Thursday.
“I am satisfied that the BBC covered up in its press logs such facts as it had been able to establish about how Mr Bashir secured the interview,” his report concluded.
The BBC issued a “full and unconditional” apology and has also written to apologise to Princes William and Harry, as well as the Prince Charles and the Earl Spencer.
The outburst of Diana’s sons comes months after Harry and his wife Meghan in an explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey in March spilled the beans about alleged racism and bullying in the royal family.
Harry, 36, on Thursday also revealed how Meghan, days before the interview was aired, broke down afraid of the media ‘smear campaign’ that awaited her.
The couple last year stepped back as a frontline royal and is now based in California.
(With inputs from agencies)