Revisiting the History of Princess Diana’s Controversial 1995 “Panorama” Interview

Unsettling details are beginning to emerge

Lady Diana at the Rugby match France-Wales in Paris, France on January 21, 1995.
Lady Diana at the Rugby match France-Wales in Paris, France on January 21, 1995.
Jean-Luc PETIT/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle interview last month with Oprah Winfrey opened a larger conversation about the royal family’s relationship with the media over the years. That’s one that’s played out over the course of multiple generations. Late last year, Katie Nicholl at Vanity Fair described Princess Diana’s 1995 interview with Martin Bashir on Panorama as “the most famous and controversial television interview in royal history.” It’s one that’s still being talked about today — though that’s in part due to an ongoing inquiry into Bashir’s behavior and the methods used to obtain the interview.

A new article by Stuart Heritage at Air Mail offers a new perspective on the Panorama interview. Heritage writes that, in the episode, “Diana spectacularly set a torch to her in-laws, telling Martin Bashir that they drove her to the brink of suicide while carefully hinting that Prince Charles shouldn’t ever be king.” The more recent controversy around the episode, which has prompted an investigation from the BBC, involves accusations with Bashir used forged documents — including bank records — to convince Diana to do the interview.

The results of the inquiry into the interview, led by former Supreme Court judge Lord Dyson, have not yet been publicly released. Heritage does note that the details that have emerged “only succeed in making everyone look even worse than they already did” — including evidence of even more forged documents and revelations about their timing.

Heritage’s article offers a good overview of the issues at hand. It also suggests that the results of the inquiry could feature scandals stacked atop scandals — and could serve as a reckoning for several of the parties involved.

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