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The Cambridges

The Duke of Cambridge ‘tentatively welcomes’ new BBC inquiry into circumstances around Diana’s famous Panorama interview

William, Duke of Cambridge
By Foreign and Commonwealth Office, CC BY 2.0

The Duke of Cambridge has commented on the latest development in the growing controversy around the BBC Panorama interview his later mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, gave a quarter of a century ago.

William’s comments came as the BBC announced that Lord Dyson, former Master of the Rolls and Head of Civil Justice, will lead an independent investigation into the interview Diana granted to Panorama presenter, Martin Bashir, broadcast on 20 November 1995.

Lord Dyson will be tasked with determining how Martin Bashir and the BBC obtained their interview with Diana.

In that interview, Diana revealed, among other bombshells, that there were “three of us” in her marriage to the Prince of Wales, confirming his affair with then-Camilla Parker Bowles; that she’d had her own extramarital affairs; and that she didn’t think she’d be queen, though she wanted to be “a queen in people’s hearts.”

Tim Davie, the BBC’s Director-General, announced Lord Dyson’s appointment on November 18 2020 saying, “The BBC is determined to get to the truth about these events, and that is why we have commissioned an independent investigation.”

On the same evening, Prince William commented, “The independent investigation is a step in the right direction. It should help establish the truth behind the actions that led to the Panorama interview and subsequent decisions taken by those in the BBC at the time.”

Allegations about the tactics used by Bashir to get Diana’s participation have been made in several newspapers over the past month. The Sunday Times published claims that Martin Bashir faked bank statements to show Earl Spencer, Diana’s younger brother, that members of his staff were being paid by newspapers to talk about the family. The bank statements were used to secure the interview.

Earl Spencer publicly condemned the BBC after the story broke. He spoke to the Daily Mail and called for another inquiry into the tactics used to obtain the story, telling People magazine, “[The BBC] have yet to apologise for what truly matters here: the incredibly serious falsification of bank statements suggesting that Diana’s closest confidants were spying on her for her enemies.

“This was what led me to talk to Diana about such things. This, in turn, led to the meeting where I introduced Diana to Bashir, on 19 September 1995. This then led to the interview. The BBC have so far refused to acknowledge the above. They claim Diana wasn’t misled. They have ignored my inquiry as to whether the apology over their false bank statements extends to the ones that actually persuaded Diana to meet Bashir.”

He has called, too, for Panorama to be stripped of the awards it won for the interview and for the BBC to give any money made from the programme to Diana’s charities.

Martin Bashir is now BBC News Religion Editor. He has been too unwell to comment publicly over the fresh allegations as he is recovering from heart surgery and Covid-19 complications.

Lord Dyson commented: “This is an important investigation which I will start straight away. I will ensure it is both thorough and fair.”

About author

Jess is a communications professional and freelance writer who lives in Halifax and has a passion for all things royal, particularly the British Royal Family.