It came as the head of the Westminster media watchdog, Julian Knight MP, said claims about how Diana had been convinced to be interviewed for the corporation’s Panorama show in 1995 were “deeply disturbing”. He also called for an independent investigation. Earl Spencer released the photograph yesterday after he’d revealed more damning information from his dossier on the methods used by reporter Martin Bashir to convince Diana to take part in the interview.
The poignant snapshot shows Diana and Charles – then aged around seven and 10 – posing on a summer’s day.
The future princess is seen draping a protective arm around her little brother’s shoulder as he looks straight into the camera. Diana and Charles were especially close at this time when their mother Frances was leaving the family home for her new love, Peter Shand Kydd.
A family friend explained: “Charles and Diana became even closer. Despite her age, Diana was very protective towards Charles.”
Yesterday within a few minutes the photograph had clocked up hundreds of “likes” on Twitter, with one social media user saying: “Lovely photo. Sibling love. God rest her soul.”
Another said: “She was set up by the BBC. I hate the way she was treated.”
In the 1995 interview, Diana famously told Bashir “there were three of us in this marriage”, referring to Prince Charles’ relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles.
One family friend warned yesterday: “This is just the start. The BBC should not underestimate Charles. He will never stop until he has dragged everyone and everything out into the daylight.”
MPs are closely watching developments. Mr Knight, chairman of the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, told Sky News: “This is deeply disturbing and it is important for public confidence in BBC journalism a thorough investigation is carried out.”
Yesterday further details of the astonishing methods apparently used by Bashir emerged. Earl Spencer released details of 32 smears contained in his detailed dossier on his contacts with the Panorama reporter.
A BBC spokesman said in a statement: “The BBC has apologised. We are happy to repeat that apology. And while this was a quarter of a century ago, we absolutely will investigate – robustly and fairly – substantive new information.
“Unfortunately, we are hampered at the moment by the simple fact that we are unable to discuss any of this with Martin Bashir, as he is seriously unwell.”