On this day in 1997, Diana, Princess of Wales apologised for taking Princes William and Harry to see a 15 certified film.
The film was The Devil’s Own, and it had been accused as glamorising the Irish Republican Army (IRA). The problem was not with Prince William,then 15, seeing the film, but rather Prince Harry, who was only 12 at the time. Diana had persuaded cinema staff to allow him in at the Kensington Odeon in West London after they initially declined to allow him in the theatre.
The visit to the cinema was just 6 days after the IRA murdered 2 Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) in County Armagh in Northern Ireland. Further, the princes’ great-uncle, Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, had been killed by the IRA in August of 1979.
The stars of the film, Americans Brad Pitt and Harrison Ford, both condemned the film for being pro-IRA. It was reported that Brad Pitt remarked that it was “the most irresponsible bit of film-making – if you can even call it that – that I’ve ever seen.” The film had mixed reviews after it was released. Some believed it showed sympathy for terrorism and claimed it was propaganda for the terrorist organisation.
While in New York on 23 June 1997, she issued a statement apologising for “any distress which may have been caused”, and she was unaware of the content of the film when she purchased the tickets.
As a result of this, Ron Hanlon, marketing director for Odeon cinemas, stated that there would be an internal investigation into the allowance of a 12-year-old to see a film certified for those 15 and older. Hanlon expected to discuss with the local licensing authority, Kensington and Chelsea council, as well.
It was just two short months later when Diana tragically passed away in a car crash in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris, France, on 31 August 1997.