Diana 'Was Not Bullied' Into 'Panorama' Appearance Says BBC Veteran

Princess Diana was not "bullied" or "hectored" into giving her contentious BBC Panorama interview, according to a broadcaster who has been connected with the BBC since the 1950s.

David Dimbleby, who presented Panorama in the 1970s, has spoken of his belief that although he understands concerns raised by Prince William over the interview after details emerged that Diana may have been deceived during attempts to secure access to her, this does not negate the entire undertaking.

"I understand Prince William's objections and the problem with how the interview was achieved," the broadcast veteran told Britain's Radio Times, "but I don't believe Diana was coerced into giving it."

"She clearly wants to say her part, she was not bullied or hectored into it," he continued.

Princess Diana and David Dimbleby
Princess Diana, left, is photographed in London on May 3, 1995. David Dimbleby, right, is seen in Oxford om March 24, 2010. The former presenter of BBC's "Panorama" current affairs show has said that he doesn't believe that Diana was "coerced" into giving her interview with Martin Bashir. Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images/David Levenson/Getty Images

"The clips show that what she was saying was genuinely meant."

Since the broadcast of Panorama's An Interview with HRH The Princess of Wales on November 20, 1995, which was viewed by 23 million people in Britain, there has been debate over the validity of what Diana said, the background of why she said it and how the BBC secured the 54-minute interview without Buckingham Palace's prior knowledge.

The princess recorded the interview in secret at her Kensington Palace apartment after being introduced to Panorama journalist Martin Bashir by her brother Earl Spencer.

During the course of her on-camera discussion with Bashir, the royal made a number of sensational statements including that she felt there were "three of us in this marriage" in relation to Prince Charles' affair with Camilla Parker Bowles and that she did not believe she would ever become queen because the royal family had labeled her a "non-starter."

The aftermath of the interview saw Diana and Charles officially divorce having separated three years earlier, an outcome the princess is reported to have resisted.

Diana was not the first member of the royal family to give such an interview. A year earlier in 1994, Charles had taken part in a documentary with David Dimbleby's brother, Jonathan, in which the prince admitted to being "unfaithful" to Diana when their marriage became "irretrievably broken down."

In 1996, just a year before Diana's untimely death at the age of 36 in a car crash while visiting Paris, concerns were raised within the BBC over the methods used by Bashir to convince the princess to collaborate with Panorama.

A graphic artist disclosed to the BBC that he was asked by Bashir to forge bank statements which allegedly showed false payments from press agencies to members of Diana's staff which it was assumed would undermine her confidence in those around her.

Princess Diana BBC Panorama Interview
Princess Diana is photographed with Martin Bashir at Kensington Palace in London in November 1995. The interview given by Diana to Bashir was viewed by 23 million Britons upon its broadcast.

An internal investigation was held at the BBC with Bashir eventually being cleared after Diana wrote a personal letter stating that the journalist "did not show me any documents nor give me any information I was not previously aware of. I consented to the interview on Panorama without any undue pressure and have no regrets concerning the matter."

Despite this, following the princess' death and the 25th anniversary of the interview's broadcast, Earl Spencer, along with Prince William backed an independent inquiry into the methods used to obtain Diana's consent to take part.

"The independent investigation is a step in the right direction," William said in a 2020 statement.

"It should help establish the truth behind the actions that led to the Panorama interview and subsequent decisions taken by those in the BBC at the time."

The findings of the inquiry by Lord Dyson were published in May 2021 and stated that Bashir had engaged in "deceitful behavior" in a "serious breach" of the BBC's editorial guidelines in attempts to secure the interview with the princess.

William released a strongly worded statement from Kensington Palace saying that the methods used to obtain the interview influenced what his mother had said and created a "false narrative." The prince also said that the interview should "never be aired again."

Prince William and Martin Bashir
Martin Bashir, left, is photographed in London on October 28, 2019. Prince William, right, is seen on November 17, 2021. Bashir was found to have engaged in "deceitful behavior" in his setting up of a 1995 interview with Princess Diana. William has called for the interview to "never be aired again." Karwai Tang/WireImage/Yui Mok/WPA Pool/Getty Images

In August, the BBC conceded to William's wish in an official apology following the payment of damages to a former nanny employed by Prince Charles who was the subject of false rumors that Bashir allegedly fed to Diana.

The director general of the BBC said in a statement: "Now we know about the shocking way that the interview was obtained, I have decided that the BBC will never show the programme again; nor will we license it in whole or part to other broadcasters."

This decision, though in accordance with William's wishes, has generated criticism by some who feel that by burying the interview, Diana is being "muzzled" from beyond the grave.

The author of Diana: Her True Story, Andrew Morton took aim at William in an interview for the Daily Beast saying: "It is a supreme irony that it is her son who has led the calls to posthumously muzzle Diana, to silence her, to prevent her from being heard, from saying what she spent her life trying to articulate,"

Others, including Prince Harry and Meghan Markle biographer Omid Scobie, voiced concerns that William's control over the broadcast of his mother's own words could lead to the "slow rewriting" of her life story.

David Dimbleby will look at Diana's Panorama interview as part of a new series marking the BBC's centenary which will include analysis of the corporation's numerous scandals over the preceding decades, including its handling of sexual abuse allegations against broadcaster Jimmy Saville.

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