Prince William calls the findings from the investigation of how the BBC procured an interview with his mother, Princess Diana, in 1995 “extremely concerning.”
On Thursday, the BBC admitted in a statement that the news network “fell short of high standards of integrity and transparency” when it came to journalist Martin Bashir’s interview with the Princess of Wales.
According to the inquiry, which was led by former British Supreme Court Judge John Dyson, Bashir had shown fake bank statements to Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, which “deceived and induced him to arrange a meeting with Princess Diana.” Bashir later lied to BBC managers about them, the inquiry said. Bashir left his position as BBC’s Religion Editor last week, citing ongoing health issues.
“I would like to thank Lord Dyson and his team for the report,” William begins his statement. “It is welcome that the BBC accepts Lord Dyson’s findings in full – which are extremely concerning.”
The Duke of Cambridge goes on to list the wrongdoing of BBC employees, stating that they “lied and used fake documents to obtain the interview with my mother, made lurid and false claims about the royal family which played on her fears and fueled paranoia, displayed woeful incompetence when investigating complaints and concerns about the program, and were evasive in their reporting to the media and covered up what they knew from their internal investigation.”
“It is my view that the deceitful way the interview was obtained substantially influenced what my mother said,” William’s statement continues. “The interview was a major contribution to making my parents’ relationship worse and has since hurt countless others.”
The 38-year-old royal, who is second in line to the throne, says he feels an “indescribable sadness to know that the BBC’s failures contributed significantly to [Princess Diana’s] fear, paranoia and isolation that I remember from those final years with her.”
William continues to reprimand the news agency, stating, “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. She was failed not just by a rogue reporter, but by leaders at the BBC who looked the other way rather than asking the tough questions.”
The duke also feels that the interview “should never be aired again” as it “holds no legitimacy.”
“It effectively established a false narrative which, for over a quarter of a century, has been commercialized by the BBC and others,” he adds. “This settled narrative now needs to be addressed by the BBC and anyone else who has written or intends to write about these events.”
William concludes, “In an era of fake news, public service broadcasting and a free press have never been more important. These failings, identified by investigative journalists, not only let my mother down, and my family down; they let the public down too.”
In his own statement on Thursday, Prince Harry said, “Our mother was an incredible woman who dedicated her life to service. She was resilient, brave, and unquestionably honest. The ripple effect of a culture of exploitation and unethical practices ultimately took her life. 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,” he continued. “Our mother lost her life because of this, and nothing has changed. By protecting her legacy, we protect everyone, and uphold the dignity with which she lived her life. Let’s remember who she was and what she stood for.”
In her 1995 interview, Princess Diana talked openly about her battle with bulimia as well as her unhappy marriage to Prince Charles, which made headlines around the world at the time.
“There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded,” she said of her marriage to Charles, referring to his relationship with his now wife, Camilla Parker Bowles.
The BBC’s director general, Tim Davie, and Bashir have both apologized, though Bashir said in his statement that the fake bank documents “had no bearing whatsoever on the personal choice by Princess Diana to take part in the interview.”
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