An independent inquiry has found that the BBC “fell short of its high standards of integrity and transparency” and reporter Martin Bashir acted in a “deceitful” manner to secure his explosive 1995 interview with Princess Diana.
The famous Panorama interview was the first time a member of the royal family had spoken candidly about their life in strongly negative terms — and Diana held nothing back.
She said royal life had driven her to bulimia and self-harm and that no one in the royal family helped her, instead dismissing her behavior and branding her “unstable.” She admitted to having an affair with her riding instructor, James Hewitt. She spoke about her estranged husband Prince Charles’s longtime affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles, famously saying, “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.”
She also cast doubts upon Charles’s capability of being king and doubted she would ever be queen of the country, saying that she would instead “like to be a queen of people’s hearts.”
The fallout from the interview, which was watched by more than 20 million people, was seismic. It secured Diana’s place in the world’s eyes as a wronged victim of an unfeeling monarchy and torpedoed public opinion of the royal family, particularly of Charles. And, soon after it aired, the Queen ordered Charles and Diana, who had been separated for more than two years, to formally file for divorce.
But on Nov. 2, 2020, weeks before the 25th anniversary of the interview, the Daily Mail published a letter from Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer, accusing the BBC of “sheer dishonesty” and unethical behind-the-scenes maneuverings in order to secure the interview.
Following his public statements, the BBC launched an independent inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the interview.