Princess Diana was a ‘change from within’, royals say
Omid Scobie, co-author of the flattering but unauthorized 2020 biography of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex titled Finding Freedom, called a “bold statement” Prince William’s claim made in May last year that the Princess of Wales’ interview with Panorama has “zero legitimacy” given the means by which it was obtained and had “established a false narrative”. The royal expert believes the BBC must have been punished for Mr Bashir’s behavior and the way it conducted the ensuing investigation.
However, he described as “puzzling” the decision announced in July by the company’s chief executive, Tim Davie, to no longer allow the footage to be released for public consumption.
The Panorama interview, Mr Scobie said, is “one of the few first-person accounts” of Princess Diana’s life.
Mr Davie’s decision was likely welcomed by Prince William, who, in a searing statement dated May 20, 2021, following the publication of the Dyson investigation into how Mr Bashir won a program exclusive with the Princess of Wales, said the interview “should never be re-aired”.
Referring to this statement from the Duke, Mr Scobie wrote in an op-ed for Yahoo! News, “That’s a bold statement, and one that I disagree with given that the majority of Diana’s Panorama revelations were already in [Andrew] Morton’s Book of Years Earlier.
Prince William said in May last year that Diana’s interview with Panorama should never be aired again
Princess Diana was interviewed by Martin Bashir in 1995
“But our differences of opinion are exactly why it’s important for the public to have access to such a historically significant interview.
“Without being able to hear Diana’s own words again, I fear we are about to enter what could potentially lead to the slow rewrite of her life.
“After all, with stories about her suffering at the hands of the royal family and why she thought Charles was unfit to become king, there are many aspects of this interview that the institution would like to be forgotten.”
The author said the media should be challenged if they engage in immoral or unethical practices.
READ MORE: Royal Family: ‘I wanted the title’, Meghan’s hopes dashed
Omid Scobie co-wrote Finding Freedom
However, at the same time freedom of speech should be given to those “repressed or silenced by higher powers”, Mr Scobie said.
The royal biographer went on to say that the late princess struggled for much of her life in the royal family to ‘share her side of the story’ and inspired millions as she found the courage to talk.
He added: “Unfortunately his voice was silenced again.”
The author noted how Princess Diana wrote, just weeks after her explosive interview aired, a letter to Mr Bashir saying she had “no regrets” about appearing on Panorama.
The message was dated December 22, 1995 and featured the Princess’s monogram.
DO NOT MISS
Princess Diana with her sons Harry and William at Kensington Palace
Prince William has issued a statement following the publication of the Lord Dyson report
He said, “Martin Bashir did not show me any documents or give me any information that I was not aware of before.
“I consented to the interview on Panorama without any undue pressure and I have no regrets about it.”
The memo was written after BBC executives asked Mr Bashir to provide evidence that Diana had not been given fake bank statements when he tried to gain access to her.
In his report published last year, Lord Dyson found that Mr Bashir had shown false documents to Earl Spencer, the Princess’s younger brother, to gain his trust and be introduced to him.
Princess Diana and Prince Charles divorced in 1996
Among other findings, Lord Dyson also said that by accessing in this way, the journalist was able to persuade Prince Charles’ then-wife to agree to give the interview.
The report added that the BBC covered up what it learned about how Mr Bashir got the interview and described the broadcaster’s internal investigation in 1996 into what happened was ‘wretchedly ineffective’. .
In his raw video statement released following the publication of Lord Dyson’s report, William said the interview contributed significantly to both the breakdown of his parents’ marriage and to “fear, paranoia and isolation” of the princess in the last years of her life.
He also said: “It brings indescribable sadness to know that the failures of the BBC have contributed significantly to her fear, paranoia and isolation that I remember from those last few years with her.
Prince William is Diana’s eldest son
“But what saddens me most is that had the BBC properly investigated the complaints and concerns first raised in 1995, my mother would have known she had been cheated.
“She was let down not just by a rogue journalist, but by BBC executives who looked the other way rather than ask the hard questions.”
Last month the BBC agreed to pay ‘substantial damages’ to William and Harry’s former nanny, Tiggy Legge-Bourke, after Mr Bashir made unfounded allegations about her as he tried to get his interview with Diana.