BBC to Pay William, Harry Nanny Damages for Notorious Diana Abortion Claim

Prince William and Prince Harry's former nanny, Alexandra "Tiggy" Pettifer (née Legge-Bourke), is to be paid damages by the BBC after it was revealed that false claims about her were likely used to influence Princess Diana into giving her notorious 1995 Panorama interview.

Pettifer was employed by Prince Charles in 1993 as a personal assistant who would look after his two sons after he and Diana separated the year before.

In a 2021 investigation into how the BBC procured its interview with Diana—which was viewed by over 22 million people in the U.K. alone—it was revealed that a number of allegations about Pettifer, including that she had been conducting an affair with Charles during the 1990s, were likely used to influence the princess into filming with Panorama.

A statement read at the high court in London by Pettifer's solicitor on Thursday, stated that the claims made against the former nanny included: "the very serious and totally unfounded allegations that the claimant was having an affair with HRH Prince of Wales resulting in a pregnancy which was aborted."

BBC Panorama Tiggy Pettifer and Princess Diana
Princess Diana is seen in a still from her infamous "Panorama" interview that was broadcast on November 20, 1995. Tiggy Pettifer, inset, is pictured in December 1998. The BBC will pay damages to Pettifer who was falsely accused of having an affair with Prince Charles. Pool Photograph/Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images/Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

"These allegations were fabricated... The Claimant did not have an affair with HRH The Prince of Wales, did not become pregnant with his child, and did not have an abortion."

"It is likely," the statement also read, "that these false and malicious allegations arose as a result and in the context of BBC Panorama's efforts to procure an exclusive interview with Diana, Princess of Wales."

Author and former editor of Vanity Fair, Tina Brown, wrote in her 2007 book The Diana Chronicles that the princess herself had demonstrated a belief in the rumors and addressed them at a palace staff Christmas party in 1995, just weeks after the broadcast of her interview.

Brown writes that the princess allegedly approached Pettifer and made the comment, "'Hello, Tiggy, how are you?'…'So sorry to hear about the baby.'"

The implication was, as Pettifer's legal counsel referenced, that a pregnancy resulting from an affair with Charles had been terminated. Brown adds that Diana was informed by her brother-in-law, Lord Fellowes, the queen's private secretary, that the claim was not true.

"Relieved" and "Without Foundation"

Pettfier's solicitor said that her client was "relieved that the BBC accepts that the allegations are completely untrue and without any foundation whatsoever" and was "pleased that the BBC has agreed to apologize unreservedly… in order to assist her in repairing the substantial harm it has caused her."

BBC Director-General Tim Davie offered a full apology to Pettifer following the hearing on Thursday.

"Following publication of the Dyson Report last year we have been working with those who suffered as a result of the deceitful tactics used by the BBC in pursuit of its interview with Diana, Princess of Wales for the Panorama program in 1995, including the matters that were mentioned in court today in respect of Miss Tiggy Legge-Bourke, now Mrs. Alexandra Pettifer," Davie said.

"The BBC has agreed to pay substantial damages to Mrs. Pettifer and I would like to take this opportunity to apologize publicly to her, to the Prince of Wales, and to the Dukes of Cambridge and Sussex, for the way in which Princess Diana was deceived and the subsequent impact on all their lives."

Tiggy Pettifer and Prince Charles
Tiggy Pettifer (née Legge-Bourke), left, and Prince Charles are photographed in January 1996. Charles employed Pettifer as a personal assistant who would look after his sons William and Harry. Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

William's Wish Denied

The revelations in the high court appear to support a statement made by William that the methods used to secure the BBC Panorama interview with his mother contributed to the breakdown of his parents' marriage.

Though Charles and Diana had separated in 1992 they did not divorce until 1996, with the Panorama interview reported to have influenced the legal termination of their marriage.

"It is my view that the deceitful way the interview was obtained substantially influenced what my mother said. The interview was a major contribution to making my parents' relationship worse and has since hurt countless others," William told reporters in 2021 after Lord Dyson had published his findings that interviewer Martin Bashir had been "deceitful" in his attempts to convince the princess to film with Panorama.

"It brings indescribable sadness to know that the BBC's failures contributed significantly to her fear, paranoia and isolation that I remember from those final years with her."

He added his view that, "this Panorama program holds no legitimacy and should never be aired again. It effectively established a false narrative which, for over a quarter of a century, has been commercialized by the BBC and others."

Statue of Princess Diana
A statue of Princess Diana was unveiled by Prince William and Prince Harry at Kensington Palace on July 2, 2021. Prince William spoke out against the BBC "Panorama" interview with his mother saying that it contributed to "her fear, paranoia and isolation that I remember from those final years with her." Samir Hussein/WireImage

Despite the BBC director-general's apology to the royals issued on Thursday he announced that the broadcaster would not bury the interview as William had hoped but would exercise "restraint" in broadcasting clips for journalistic purposes.

"[The interview] does of course remain part of the historical record and there may be occasions in the future when it will be justified for the BBC to use short extracts for journalistic purposes," Davie's apology stated.

"But these will be few and far between and will need to be agreed at executive committee level and set in the full context of what we now know about the way the interview was obtained. I would urge others to exercise similar restraint."

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Princess Diana's death at the age of 36 in a Paris car crash. In 2021, Princes William and Harry unveiled a statue in her honor at Kensington Palace.

Newsweek has approached representatives of Pettifer and Prince Charles for comment.

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