Princess Diana's Polarizing 'Panorama' Interview Re-created for 'The Crown'

Princess Diana's 1995 interview with BBC's Panorama, which in recent years has been the focus of a media scandal that led Prince William to call for it to "never be aired again," has been re-created for the new season of The Crown.

In an extended trailer released Thursday by Netflix, Diana, played by Elizabeth Debicki, is shown interacting with BBC journalist Martin Bashir (Prasanna Puwanarajah) to covertly arrange the interview, which took place without Buckingham Palace's knowledge.

The interview is famous for some revelations Diana made, including discussing her experiences with depression and her experiences as a member of the royal family.

Perhaps most notable was the princess's disclosure that "there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded" when asked by Bashir if she believed Camilla Parker Bowles, now Queen Camilla, played a key role in the breakdown of her marriage.

Princess Diana Panorama
Princess Diana is seen during her interview with the BBC's Martin Bashir in November 1995. Pool Photograph/Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

The trailer for The Crown's fifth season shows the princess and Bashir meeting in a car following a clip of the journalist telling colleagues, "She opens her mouth and hand grenades come out—she wants to tear down the temple."

A later clip shows a re-creation of the princess's drawing room at Kensington Palace where the interview was filmed at night to avoid notice by members of the royal family.

In the scene, Debicki, as Diana, delivers the line "I won't go quietly, I'll battle to the end."

Elizabeth Debicki "The Crown"
Elizabeth Debicki plays Princess Diana in Netflix's "The Crown," with Dominic West as Prince Charles. Netflix

The public's reaction to the interview's broadcast was overwhelmingly sympathetic toward the princess. But as a result of the unprecedented airing of private matters involving the royal family, the queen was reportedly motivated to push Charles and Diana to divorce.

As early as 1996, one year before the princess' untimely death at the age of 36 in a Paris car crash, concerns were raised within the BBC about Bashir's methods to convince Diana to give an exclusive interview to Panorama.

A freelance graphic artist reported to BBC bosses that he was asked by Bashir to forge bank statements allegedly showing false payments from media agencies to people on Diana's household staff, which, it was presumed, could have undermined her confidence in those around her.

A BBC internal investigation on the matter was dropped after Diana sent a letter to the broadcaster. She wrote that Bashir "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."

The matter came to light in 2020, 25 years after the interview's broadcast. As a result of public outcry over the forgery allegations, a BBC independent inquiry examined the methods Bashir used to secure the interview.

In 2021, the investigation found that Bashir had engaged in "deceitful behavior" in a "serious breach" of the BBC's editorial guidelines when he got the interview.

Prince William issued an unprecedented personal response to the findings, saying that the interview had created a "false narrative" and "holds no legitimacy and should never be aired again."

The BBC issued a formal apology on behalf of the organization, and in 2022 it said it would not show the interview in full or in part again. Clips could be used in the future but only when placed in the context of the investigation's findings.

Despite William's reaction to the interview, others condemned the shelving of the broadcast as an attempt to silence the princess over a matter that was deeply embarrassing for the royal family.

Royal author Omid Scobie wrote in August that "Princess Diana rarely got the chance to tell her own story."

"Without being able to hear Diana's own words again, I fear we may be about to enter what could potentially lead to the slow rewriting of her life," he said. "Unethical and immoral practices in the media should always be fought against. But just as important as ensuring the integrity of journalism is freedom of speech for those suppressed or silenced by higher powers."

Scobie continued: "Diana fought for much of her royal life to share her side of the story and be better understood. She put everything on the line, and her braveness has inspired millions around the world. Sadly now, her voice has been silenced once again."

The decision to re-create parts of the interview, as well as fictionalized scenes showing its conception and reception, will prove controversial for the makers of The Crown. Netflix is facing growing calls to display a disclaimer before episodes that says the events shown are not factual but instead a loose dramatization of what took place.

Season 5 of The Crown will be available for streaming on November 9.

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