Princess Diana talking to Martin Bashir was the interview of the century. The most talked-about woman on the planet finally spilling the beans – and in her own words.
- Royal biographer Duncan Larcombe writes that the two princes are determined to get to the truth about their late mother’s interview with Martin Bashir.
- According to Duncan, Harry and William are ‘filled with rage’ over the new allegations about how Martin Bashir landed his career defining interview with Diana.
- This royal news comes after it was reported that the Queen’s Christmas speech is being postponed because of Brexit.
Like a prize fighter, Princess Diana landed blow after blow on the Royal Family as she laid bare her treatment at their hands on the BBC’s flagship Panorama programme in 1995.
More than 23 million people tuned in to watch what remains one of the most jaw-dropping interviews in television history. It remains so controversial that the full programme has never been broadcast since.
A quarter of a century later, we have extraordinary claims by a former BBC graphic designer that interviewer Martin Bashir used fake bank statements to convince Diana that her feelings of paranoia were well-founded.
So it is no surprise that both William and Harry are ‘sick with anger’ and have supported demands for an investigation into the circumstances of how the interview came about…
‘Filled with rage’
By showing her fake documents ‘proving’ that people were betraying her, it is claimed Diana was misled by Bashir. This may well have contributed to her decision to throw caution to the wind and let rip in such a public way.
Convincing someone to agree to an interview by preying on their darkest fears and faking documents to fuel their anger and paranoia is surely one of the most unethical con tricks ever dreamed up.
The boys knew some historic questions about Panorama remained unanswered, but these new claims have come as an enormous shock. This week, a source close to both brothers told me they had spoken and shared the same rage at the claims.
They also warned that, as far as Diana’s sons are concerned, the implications of what happened may be more sinister than her just falling victim to the trick.
Paranoia for the Princess?
At the time of the interview, Diana had split from Prince Charles, but she feared that his household were briefing against her. Her mind often clouded with conspiracies and a paranoia over who she could trust, and Diana was extremely vulnerable to suggestions of foul play.
Crucially, it was because of this paranoia that Diana sacked her Royal Protection detail, the Met Police officers whose job it was to protect her and keep her from harm.
It is widely accepted that if these same bodyguards had been protecting Diana in Paris in 1997, the fatal game of cat-and-mouse with photographers would never have happened. Losing her trust in her police bodyguards left Diana at the mercy of driver Henri Paul, to tragic end.
Victim, not villain
The source tells me that William and Harry will ultimately only be satisfied if they can establish whether the Bashir ‘faked’ documents contributed in any way to Diana’s decision to sack her protection officers.
Quite how that could ever be established is up for question, but William and Harry have clearly agreed to push this to a conclusion.
They are also concerned that the Bashir interview has been used as a stick to beat their mother with. After her death, it was often argued that Diana was an ‘arch-manipulator’ of the media. On the surface, the Panorama programme was proof that the princess used the media for her own gains.
If the claims of faked documents are true, then Diana was, in fact, the victim of a sting, rather than author of her own demise.
William and Harry want to see this record set straight, and for those who may have been involved with an alleged con trick to be brought to account.
But as is always the case when the Panorama interview is brought up, William and Harry find it particularly heartbreaking. In 1995, when the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Sir David Frost were bidding for access to the princess, it was perhaps her lowest time. And anything that contributed to her feelings of paranoia in that period was unfortunate.
It is truly shocking to think someone might have seen this weakness as an opportunity.
No wonder they are determined to see this one through. They are entitled to find out if their mother was boosting a reporter’s career, or if she had been caught in a carefully spun web to land one of the biggest interviews of them all.
By Duncan Larcombe, author of Prince Harry: The Inside Story