After an investigation concluded that a British journalist used “deceitful behavior” to obtain Princess Diana’s most explosive TV interview in 1995, the royal family is angry.
Prince William and his brother Prince Harry have issued strongly worded statements calling out the BBC and British media in general for their unethical practices.
The Interview & Investigation
According to reporting by KSAT, “The circumstances surrounding the interview from more than 20 years ago came under scrutiny after Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, made renewed complaints that journalist Martin Bashir used false documents and other dishonest tactics to persuade Diana to agree to the interview.”
A retired senior judge was appointed by BCC to lead an investigation into the issue. The report that came out of the investigation reveals that Bashir acted in a deceitful way, breaching BBC rules by “mocking up fake bank statements and showing them to Charles Spencer to gain access to the princess,” KSAT reports.
The report indicates that BBC knew about Bashir’s actions, and covered them up. It also noted that the company’s probe into the issue fell far short of its standards of integrity and transparency.
Responses from the Royal Family
According to Prince William, BBC’s actions contributed to the decline of his parents’ marriage, and also contributed to the worsening of Princess Diana’s feelings of paranoia.
“The interview was a major contribution to making my parents’ relationship worse and has since hurt countless others,” William wrote. “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 Bashir’s interview with Princess Diana, she famously mentioned that “there were three of us in this marriage,” referring to Prince Charles’ relationship with Camilla Parker-Bowles. Her candid discussion of her failing marriage was broadcast to millions of people, sending shockwaves through the British royal family.
William also alleged that “the deceitful way the interview was obtained substantially influenced what my mother said,” noting that, if the BBC properly investigated Bashir’s actions in 1995, Princess Diana “would have known that she had been deceived.”
Prince Harry took his criticism even further, saying that the problem was bigger than just the BBC. “The ripple effect of a culture of exploitation and unethical practices ultimately took her life,” he said.
“To those who have taken some form of accountability, thank you for owning it. That is the first step toward justice and truth,” Harry added. “Yet what deeply concerns me is that practices like these—and even worse—are still widespread today.”
Richard Sharp, the chairman of BBC, spoke out about the investigation’s findings, admitting that the company accepts the results, and that “there were unacceptable failures.” He has written a letter of apology to the royal family.
Bashir, the journalist responsible for the unethical practices, left the company last week due to COVID-related complications. He has released a statement claiming that he regrets his actions in faking the bank statements, saying that it was “a stupid thing to do.” Of course, he’s still trying to defend himself, claiming that his actions had “no bearing whatsoever on the personal choice by Princess Diana to take part in the interview.”
The director-general of BBC at the time of the interview, John Birt, has referred to Bashir as a “rogue reporter” who “fabricated an elaborate, detailed but wholly false account of his dealings with Earl Spencer and Princess Diana.”
“This is a shocking blot on the BBC’s enduring commitment to honest journalism; and it is a matter of the greatest regret that it has taken 25 years for the full truth to emerge,” Birt added.