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BBC Diana Interview : Broadcaster Says Sorry But What Really Happened?

BBC has issued an "unconditional apology" due to the way Princess Diana's interview was taken. But what exactly happened?

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Shriya Sarang
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BBC Diana Interview: The broadcaster had recently issued an unconditional apology for securing a bombshell interview in 1995 from Princess Diana on the grounds of 'deception'. This interview is also said to be a major contributor to make her divorce worse according to Prince William.
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This admission and apology by the BBC has led to global outrage over the breach by BBC, which is considered the hallmark of journalism and journalist practises. This is all that you need to about the case and controversy.

What's the Interview being talked about?

This interview on BBC featured Princess Diana sharing very detailed accounts of her difficult relationship with Prince Charles and opening up about his affair with Camilla Parker Bowles.

The interview, done by journalist Martin Bashir, said BBC was obtained through deceitful means. Bashir may have lied to the managers of BBC about how he got it. The truth was discovered only recently during an independent inquiry by Lord Dyson, a British barrister.

Why is the interview considered an unethical breach in journalism?

Martin Bashir reportedly had no royal contacts and yet was able to secure the interview with Princess Diana. He was able to do so as he had forged documents with the help of a graphic designer at BBC. Bashir showed false documents to Earl Spencer, Princess Diana's brother.

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Bashir gained Spencer's trust by showing him forged bank statements appearing to show payments by a newspaper group to a former member of his staff. Later, Spencer introduced Bashir to Princess Diana. Bashir's interview of Diana brought out many ugly truths about the royal couple, creating waves across the world.

Who is Martin Bashir?

Martin Bashir was a junior BBC reporter at that time. Later, he left his job at BBC and joined ITV's Tonight With Trevor McDonald programme. In 2016, he became the religion editor at BBC after rejoining and resigned due to ill-health.

Why was it a bombshell interview?

In the interview, Princess Diana:

  • admitted having an affair
  • said Prince Charles's affair with Camilla Parker Bowles (now his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall) had made her feel worthless
  • spoke of there being "three of us" in the marriage
  • said she had had bulimia and self-harmed
  • suggested Prince Charles might not be able to take on duties of a king
  • said Prince Charles's staff were waging a campaign against her
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What did BBC do about the interview?

BBC issued an unconditional apology on 20th May 2021 and said in their statement, "The BBC should have made greater effort to get to the bottom of what happened at the time and been more transparent about what it knew."

The BBC statement on Bashir interview also added, "without justification, the BBC fell short of the high standards of integrity and transparency which are its hallmark".

What are Prince William and Prince Harry's take on Princess Diana's interview?

Prince William credited this interview to make his parents' divorce worse. He said that Princess Diana, "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."

Further, Prince Harry said the "ripple effect of a culture of exploitation and unethical practices" ultimately took his mother's life.

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Prince Harry BBC princess diana Martin Bashir
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