Princess Diana changed the way the world looked at the Royal Family. She wasn’t afraid to open up about her life and occasionally share some very private struggles with the entire world.
One of the best examples of this was her 1995 interview with BBC Panorama. During that interview, she told journalist Martin Bashir about dealing with the adultery of her husband Prince Charles and her struggles with mental health.
Now, new details have emerged about Martin Bashir that change the context of the entire interview. But why was the interview so important, and what shocking facts have we now learned about Martin Bashir? Our full report is below.
Why Diana’s interview with Martin Bashir was so important
Scandals surrounding Martin Bashir have helped to bring this interview back into our public discourse. However, this interview has been very famous for decades due to all the shocking tea that Princess Diana spilled to a home audience of more than 20 million British viewers. (A full transcript of Diana’s interview with Martin Bashir is available here via PBS.)
For example, Diana opened up about dealing with bulimia and about thoughts of self-harm. She also discussed adultery quite openly. In this interview, she talked about her husband’s affair with Camilla Parker Bowles in a bittersweet way. “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded,” she said.
She was even honest about her own affair with James Hewitt and about her opinion that Charles would struggle with the responsibilities of being a kind. Months after the interview aired, Charles and Diana divorced.
While all of this was scandalous enough on its own, we now have reasons to believe the interviewer manipulated Princess Diana into giving this interview under false pretenses!
BBC publishes investigation and apologizes over findings
As you might imagine, it is very difficult to arrange an interview with royalty. And the scandal now surrounding Martin Bashir involve exactly how he got access to Princess Diana. Thanks to an official investigation by High Court judge Lord John Dyson and published by the BBC on May 20, we now know more about this matter.
To get to Diana, Bashir had to first win over her brother, Charles Spencer, the 9th Earl Spencer. To win Spencer over, the BBC now admits that Bashir presented “forged bank statements” from the BBC’s graphic artists. The alleged goal of these fake bank statements was to convince Diana that royal employees were being paid to spy on her.
In an email to BBC Director-General Tim Davie (via The Daily Mail), Spencer says he “would not have introduced Bashir to my sister” if not for the forgery. Even worse, he told the publication that Bashir told lies to Diana about the Royal Family in an effort to gain her trust. And just like that, one of the most scandalous interviews of all time gained a new layer of drama.
Now, 25 years after the historic interview, the BBC has offered an official apology. “While the BBC cannot turn back the clock after a quarter of a century, we can make a full and unconditional apology. The BBC offers that today.”
BBC Chairman Richard Sharp added, “There were unacceptable failures. We take no comfort from the fact that these are historic. The BBC must uphold the highest possible standards.”
But soon after the report was published, Diana’s children — Prince William and Prince Harry — weighed in on the situation.
Prince William weighs in
Prince William had a lot to say about Martin Bashir and the interview with his mother. And to share what was on his mind, the future King of England took to Twitter.
There, William gave a powerful statement on the matter. “It is my view that the deceitful way the interview was obtained substantially influenced what my mother said,” he 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.”
While some skeptics raised their eyebrows at the implication that the BBC hurt his parents’ relationship (rather than laying the blame on Prince Charles’ ongoing affair while married to Diana), William makes some passionate points.
“But 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,” William continued. “She was failed not just by a rogue reporter, but by leaders at the BBC who looked the other way rather than asking the tough questions.”
Prince Harry responds
As reported by Buzzfeed’s Ellie Hall, Prince Harry followed his older brother’s lead and issued his own statement on the matter. And that statement is now available via Twitter:
Harry does not spend any time mincing words. “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,” Harry wrote.
“To those who have taken some form of accountability, thank you for owning it. That is the first step towards justice and truth. Yet what deeply concerns me is that practices like these — and even worse — are still widespread today. Then, and now, it’s bigger than one outlet, one network, or one publication.”
Wrapping up, Harry wrote, “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. Let’s remember who she was and what she stood for.”
With William and Harry’s statements, Martin Bashir faced a wave of criticism and had to make a response of his own.
Martin Bashir’s response to allegations
Amid all this controversy surrounding Martin Bashir, everyone wants to know, what is his response?
Bashir resigned from his current position as BBC religion editor shortly before the report dropped, citing health issues after a major surgery last year, The New York Times reported. However, some see it as Bashir leaving the BBC before he can get fired.
For his part, Bashir issued a statement apologizing for the forged bank statements, but denied they played a role in Diana’s decision to do the interview.
“This is the second time that I have willingly fully co-operated with an investigation into events more than 25 years ago,” he said. “I apologized then, and I do so again now, over the fact that I asked for bank statements to be mocked up. It was a stupid thing to do and was an action I deeply regret.”
However, Bashir claimed “the bank statements had no bearing whatsoever on the personal choice by Princess Diana to take part in the interview,” citing evidence in Diana’s “own handwriting.”
“It is saddening that this single issue has been allowed to overshadow the princess’ brave decision to tell her story, to courageously talk through the difficulties she faced, and, to help address the silence and stigma that surrounded mental health issues all those years ago,” Bashir said. “She led the way in addressing so many of these issues and that’s why I will always remain immensely proud of that interview.”
At this time, it is unclear if William, Harry, or other interested parties may take legal action against Bashir and/or the BBC.