Princes William and Harry pressed for higher standards in the news media following a BBC investigation that found the journalist Martin Bashir used “deceitful behavior” to secure a landmark interview with Diana, Princess of Wales.
William, Duke of Cambridge, said it brought him “indescribable sadness” to know that the lies presented to his mother contributed to the “fear, paranoia and isolation” that plagued her in the years prior to her death.
“But what saddens me most, is that if the BBC had properly investigated the complaints and concerns first raised in 1995, my mother would have known that she had been deceived,” he said.
An independent report published Thursday after a monthslong probe found that Bashir acted inappropriately and breached the publicly funded broadcaster’s editorial guidelines in order to gain access to the royal, who famously told him in the November 1995 interview that “there were three of us in this marriage.”
The line referred to her husband, Prince Charles, having an affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, whom he would go on to marry in 2005, eight years after Diana’s death in a car crash in August 1997.
William asserted that the lies that were presented to his mother contributed to her statements, resulting in a false narrative, and asked that the program never be aired again. The “settled narrative” needs to be included by anyone who writes about his mother’s life and legacy moving forward, he said.
“In an era of fake news, public service broadcasting and a free press have never been more important,” he said. “These failings, identified by investigative journalists, not only let my mother down, and my family down; they let the public down too.”
Harry, Duke of Sussex, went a step further and explicitly blamed the media for his mother’s death. Many have attributed the paparazzi following her for contributing to the car crash that killed her in Paris.
“The ripple effect of a culture of exploitation and unethical practices ultimately took her life,” he said. “To those who have taken some form of accountability, thank you for owning it. That is the first step towards justice and truth. Yet what deeply concerns me is that practices like these — and even worse — are still widespread today. Then, and now, it’s bigger than one outlet, one network, or one publication.”
Diana was “resilient, brave, and unquestionably honest,” Harry said.
The BBC appointed Lord John Anthony Dyson, a former justice of the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court, last year to look into allegations that Bashir may have lied to Diana in order to land his interview, which was watched by more than 20 million people in Britain. Accusations surfaced against Bashir after a documentary aired last November on ITV called “The Diana Interview: Revenge of a Princess.”
It claimed that Bashir had a graphic designer create fake bank statements, which he then allegedly used to convince Diana that royal employees were being paid to spy on her.
Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, tweeted Nov. 8 that he knew Bashir “used fake bank statements and other dishonesty to get my sister to do the interview.”
Spencer also claimed that he found out that the BBC knew about the fake bank statements, as well. He demanded the network apologize for the falsified documents that led him to introduce Bashir to his sister.
Dyson’s findings confirmed the allegations. Bashir said in a statement that he apologized “over the fact that I asked for bank statements to be mocked up.” This was “a stupid thing to do and was an action I deeply regret,” he said.
Yuliya Talmazan contributed.