Princess Diana had “no regrets” about her infamous 1995 interview with Martin Bashir on BBC’s Panorama program and was “pleased about it”, according to her biographer Tina Brown.
Veteran journalist Brown, who wrote the biography, The Diana Chronicles in 2007, has a new book titled The Palace Papers: Inside the House of Windsor, the Truth and the Turmoil releasing imminently.
In an excerpt from the book, published in Vanity FairBrown describes a meeting with British entrepreneur Gulu Lalvani who had dated Diana shortly before her death.
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“I am told by Lalvani that Diana said she had no regrets about the interview and made clear that she had said exactly what she wanted to say on camera.
“(She even co-opted lines such as ‘There were three of us in this marriage’ from her writer friend Clive James).
“‘She was pleased about it [the interview],’ Lalvani confirmed to me.
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“She didn’t have a bad word to say about Martin Bashir. She realized it served her purpose. She was right.”
In May, an inquiry into the interview found that Bashir acted in “serious breach” of BBC guidelines to secure the interview.
The 127-page report, led by Lord Dyson, found that the journalist “deceived and induced” Diana’s brother Earl Spencer into arranging the interview.
But Brown maintains it was all part of Diana’s plan.
“Her ‘purpose’ was to frame herself to the British public as a betrayed woman before the increasingly inevitable divorce from Charles. Opinion polls in the wake of the interview showed support for the princess at 92 per cent. She had the public in the palm of her hand,” writes Brown.
“I don’t subscribe to the now pervasive narrative that Diana was a vulnerable victim of media manipulation, a mother puppet tossed about by malign forces beyond her control.”
Brown’s account differs from that of Diana’s sons the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex, who both issued statements condemning Bashir and the BBC following the release of the report.
Prince William said: “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.
“It is my firm view that this Panorama program holds no legitimacy and should never be aired again.”
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Prince Harry went further, directly linking the interview to his mother’s death.
“The ripple effect of a culture of exploitation and unethical practices ultimately took her life. Our mother lost her life because of this, and nothing has changed.”
In response, the BBC’s director-general Tim Davie publicly apologized for the corporation’s “multiple serious failures” around the interview.
While Lord Tony Hall, another BBC director-general from April 2013 to August 2020, told Prince William he was “deeply sorry” for the “hurt” caused.
But Brown disagrees with the portrayal of Diana as “foolish” or “duped”.
“While strongly sympathetic to her sons’ pain, I find it offensive to present the canny, resourceful Diana as a woman of no agency, as either a foolish, duped child or the hapless casualty of malevolent muckrakers,” Brown adds.
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UK media personality Piers Morgan, who is also quoted in Brown’s book, corroborated Brown’s view on Wednesday.
“True. Diana told me that over lunch 6 months after the interview aired,” Morgan tweeted.
“‘Do you regret doing Panorama?’ I asked. ‘No,’ she replied. ‘I have no regrets.
“‘I wanted to do it, to put my side over. There’s been so much rubbish said and written that it was time people knew the truth’.”
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