LONDON – The respected British broadcaster BBC is facing questions about its integrity following a scathing report on its explosive 1995 interview with Princess Diana.
Britain’s justice secretary said Friday that the government would review the rules governing oversight of the BBC after an investigation found that one of its journalists used “deceitful behavior” to secure the interview and the corporation obscured this misconduct for 25 years.
Here's a look at the impact of the interview:
Princess Diana, who was already separated from her husband, Prince Charles, gave a 1995 interview to the BBC in which she said the marriage had failed because Charles, then 47, was still in love with an old flame, Camilla Parker Bowles, then 48.
Diana, then 34, said she was devastated when she found out in 1986 — five years after her marriage — that Charles had renewed his relationship with Camilla. She said she was so depressed that she deliberately hurt herself in a desperate bid for help.
“There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded,″ Diana said.
HOW WAS THE INTERVIEW SEEN AT THE TIME?
The interview with now-disgraced BBC reporter Martin Bashir was widely seen as the princess’ retort to her husband’s nationally televised confession in 1994 that he had strayed from his marriage vows.
Diana said she was devastated when she found out about Charles’ affair and that the discovery led to a feeling of failure and “rampant bulimia.”
Though the couple had separated in December 1992, the princess’ revelations shocked television audiences and evoked sympathy from millions of Britons. The Sun tabloid reported floods of calls running at 75% in favor of Diana after the 55-minute interview.
Diana disclosed that Charles had asked for the separation and said she wasn't seeking a divorce because of the impact it would have on her sons. But she added: “Obviously we need clarity in the situation. … I await my husband’s decision of which way we are all going to go.”
After the interview, Queen Elizabeth II recommended that the couple divorce quickly. The marriage was legally dissolved the following year.
WHY WAS IT SO IMPORTANT?
The interview marked the first time Diana had offered her side of the story in what was dubbed “the war of the Windsors,” said Ed Owens, author of “The Family Firm: Monarchy, Mass Media and the British Public, 1932-53.” The now-famous comment about three people in the marriage made clear that Charles had long been unfaithful, all but ensuring the collapse of their marriage.
“It was also a turning point in the way the media reported on the monarchy, in that journalists increasingly looked for ‘inside scoops’ which could shed light on the dysfunctional elements of royal family life that were usually concealed from public view,’’ Owens said.
“Equally, other royals have since used the one-to-one ‘tell all’ interview as a way of getting their side of the story across,” Owen added.
He cited Prince Andrew’s self-destructive 2019 interview with the BBC about his links to convicted American sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and the interview that Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, gave to Oprah Winfrey this year.
WHAT WAS THE AFTERMATH?
As a result of the divorce, Diana lost many of her royal perks. Two years after the interview, the princess died in a Paris traffic accident as she and a companion were being pursued by paparazzi.
Both of her sons, Princes William and Harry, have said they see a direct link between deceptive tactics that were used to secure the BBC interview and their mother’s untimely death.
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