In the 23 years since Princess Diana passed away, there have always been questions surrounding a 1995 interview the royal did on the BBC show, Panorama, with journalist Martin Bashir. Now, friends and family are starting to speak up about the coercive way she was lured into the interview, which might have contributed to her untimely death.
Charles Spencer, the princess’s brother, and has been trying to get the BBC to do an investigation into Bashir after The Sunday Times revealed the journalist forged bank statements before Diana’s BBC November 1995 interview. Bashir tried to convince Spencer that his staff was leaking information about Diana and her family for money. Spencer is still boiling mad about the situation because he was the one who helped Bashir secure the interview with his sister.
Now Diana’s close friend, Rosa Monckton has come out in supports of Spencer’s allegations and says that this interview did incredible damage to Diana, and ultimately, led to her death in 1997.
“Diana changed from being very concerned with day-to-day matters, just like any normal friend, to suddenly becoming obsessed with plots against her,” Monckton wrote in the Daily Mail. “She believed Bashir’s outrageous claims — one of his skills, clearly, was in exploiting her susceptibility to the idea that she was being spied on by ‘enemies.’ “
That paranoia spread to all parts of her life, including changing her phone number at Kensington Palace and accusing Prince William and Harry’s nanny, Tiggy Legge-Bourke, of having an affair with Prince Charles. Monckton believes viewers can see the manipulation between Bashir and Diana happening on-camera.
“She was in the grip of interviewer Martin Bashir, and there was not even a glimpse of the level-headed, fun-loving and compassionate person who was my friend,” she explained. “The most chilling part, in retrospect, was when Bashir asked: ‘Do you really believe that a campaign has been waged against you?’ For what has become clear, thanks to the Mail‘s disclosures about the heartless and dishonest way Bashir secured his interview with Diana, is the tragic irony behind the question.”
The fallout from the Panorama interview was major. It reportedly altered the course of Diana’s life and set her on a path without the protections of the Royal Family. In addition to Queen Elizabeth ordering the divorce proceedings to be finalized, Diana was hastily thrust back into private life.
“Among those decisions was the fact that Diana lost her royal title,” Monckton shared. “Had she retained it, she would have still been in the embrace of the Royal Family when in Paris on August 31, 1997. And she would almost certainly not have been in the incapable hands of a speeding drunk driver employed by Mohamed Al-Fayed, who owned the Ritz Hotel where she and his son, Dodi, had dined.”
Monckton feels the BBC are equally at fault for the princess’ death. “For the BBC, our national broadcasting corporation, to behave in this devious and underhand way is just as bad as any of the hunting pack of paparazzi,” she wrote.
The BBC had initially refused to do an investigation into the forged Bashir documents, but they are singing a different tune now that the issue has made international headlines. The network claims that Bashir is unwell and will move forward with a thorough look into the claims once he is up to the task.
Before you go, click here to see the best photos of Princess Diana playing with William and Harry.