Channel 4 airs ‘Diana: The Truth Behind the Interview’ tonight. It will piece together the story behind the Princess of Wales’ explosive interview 25 years ago. The revelations in the BBC Panorama interview with Martin Bashir stunned the world and painted the institution of the monarchy as cruel and cold. The programme will interview insiders at the BBC and those who knew the princess, as well as examining archive documents.
In the interview, Diana said the famous words that there were “three of us in this marriage”, referring to Prince Charles’ affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, now the Duchess of Cornwall.
She also opened up about her struggles with bulimia and depression, and how she was met with silence when she asked for help.
It was this interview that spelt the end of her marriage to Charles ‒ the couple finalised their divorce the following year.
While most viewers were deeply sympathetic towards Diana, her son William, who was 13 at the time, was reportedly furious with her for airing the family’s dirty laundry so publicly.
READ MORE: Queen ‘lost patience’ with Diana over ‘frightful’ Panorama interview
Prince William was furious with Diana about her interview with Martin Bashir
Diana said there were “three of us” in her marriage, referring to Charles’ affair with Camilla
Royal expert Katie Nicholl revealed in the Amazon Prime documentary ‘William and Harry: Brothers in Arms’ that William called his mother after he saw the interview.
She said: “William was exposed to everything from the interview and called his mother in a fury and a rage.”
She also recalled how Princess Diana’s friend Simone Simmons told her: “It was the one time William turned on his mother and said that he would never forgive Diana for what she’d done.”
William saw the programme when he was called down to his house master’s study at Eton at around 8pm, where he sat on his own and watched the interview.
Prince William on his first day at Eton College
Harry had reportedly turned down the chance to join him.
Ms Nicholl wrote about it in her 2010 book ‘William and Harry’, when she explained how William was perplexed as he watched.
She wrote: “He simply could not believe that his mother had invited the television cameras into the home he had grown up in and loved, to betray his father and their family in such a public way.”
Meanwhile, Robert Jobson explained in his 2006 book ‘William’s Princess’ that Diana had paid a visit to Eton the day before the programme was broadcast.
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Princess Diana in her BBC Panorama interview with Martin Bashir
She wanted to tell William about it before it was screened and, too late to stop it, she was “beginning to regret her decision”.
He added: “William watched in dismay as Diana went further than anybody had imagined she would.
“William, her ever-dependable little consort, was mortified and hurt by his mother’s words on Panorama.”
For a while, William gave her the silent treatment, not wanting to carry on playing the role of her confidant.
But within a few weeks, she was forgiven, because “his love for her was unconditional”.
William’s feelings about it mellowed over time and on the 20th anniversary of her death in 2017, he finally spoke openly about it.
He explained that he finally understood why she did what she did.
He said: “I can understand ‒ having sometimes been in those situations, you feel incredibly desperate, and it is very unfair that things are being said that are untrue.
Princess Diana and Prince Charles timeline
“The easiest thing to do is just to say or go to the media yourself.
“Open that door, but once you’ve opened it you can never close it again.”
Princess Diana regretted the interview later, according to her former private secretary Patrick Jephson.
He told the Daily Mail: “I think the scales fell from her eyes and suddenly what had been rather a subversive or daring scheme ‒ or however [the BBC] had dressed it up for her – it suddenly in the cold light of day, didn’t look like such a good idea.”
Mr Jephson also revealed to Fox News that Diana felt she had not portrayed herself in the right way.
He said: “She portrayed herself as a victim. In reality, she was a much stronger person. She was in a position to be a healer, rather than a victim.
“She could have appeared from a position of strength… I found it frustrating professionally, and I think she regretted it as well, portraying herself as a victim, asking for sympathy.
“She missed an enormous opportunity to cement her position.”
Prince Charles and Camilla timeline
William was not the only one who was unhappy with Diana either.
The Queen herself was reportedly sick of all the public mud-slinging and saw it as the final straw, insisting that the couple needed to divorce.
Penny Junor wrote in her book ‘The Duchess: The Untold Story’ about Camilla that the Queen “finally lost her patience”.
She added: “This public mud-slinging wasn’t just harming the monarchy, it was damaging for the young princes.”
The Queen had a difficult relationship with Diana
‘Diana: The Truth Behind the Interview’ is on at 9pm tonight on Channel 4.
‘William and Harry’ was written by Katie Nicholl in 2010 and published by Preface Publishing. It is available here.
‘William’s Princess’ was written by Robert Jobson in 2006 and published by John Blake Publishing Limited. It is available here.
‘The Duchess: The Untold Story’ was written by Penny Junor in 2017 and published by HarperCollins. It is available here.