Prince Harry Breaks Silence on Inquiry of Princess Diana's BBC Interview: She 'Lost Her Life Because of This'
"The ripple effect of a culture of exploitation and unethical practices ultimately took her life," 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," the Duke of Sussex, 36, said in a statement about the inquiry, which concluded that Bashir, 58, breached the BBC's editorial guidelines by creating two false bank statements to improperly manipulate Diana into giving the interview.
"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," Harry 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," he ended his statement.
Diana's interview, during which she famously claimed there were "three of us" in her marriage to Prince Charles, swiftly led to an order from Queen Elizabeth that Diana and Charles should divorce. They had separated in 1992 and officially divorced in 1996. Then, Diana died at age 36 following a car crash in Paris in August 1997.
Listen below to our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day for more on details on the report about former BBC journalist Martin Bashir's Panorama interview with Princess Diana.
Also on Thursday, Prince William released a lengthy statement, strongly condemning Bashir and the network.
"I would like to thank Lord Dyson and his team for the report. It is welcome that the BBC accepts Lord Dyson's findings in full – which are extremely concerning – that BBC employees: 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," the Duke of Cambridge began.
"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. 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," William continued. "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 father of three concluded, "It is my firm 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. This settled narrative now needs to be addressed by the BBC and anyone else who has written or intends to write about these events. 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."
Speaking exclusively to PEOPLE in November 2020, Earl Spencer stated that Bashir's documents played a hugely influential role in his decision to approach Diana about the interview, as they alleged that a member of his staff was being paid to leak information about the princess's family. "This was what led me to talk to Diana about such things," he told PEOPLE at the time. "This, in turn, led to the meeting where I introduced Diana to Bashir, on September 19, 1995. This then led to the interview."
Before the findings of the inquiry were made public, Spencer tweeted a sweet photo of him with his sister, underlining his motivation. "Some bonds go back a very long way," he added poignantly alongside.
Following the results of the inquiry, which took six months, Bashir apologized for mocking up the documents but said he remained "immensely proud" of the interview. Last week, Bashir quit his post as BBC religion editor ahead of the network's release of the inquiry report.
And in a separate statement, BBC Director-General Tim Davie said, "I would like to thank Lord Dyson. His report into the circumstances around the 1995 interview is both thorough and comprehensive. The BBC accepts Lord Dyson's findings in full. Although the report states that Diana, Princess of Wales, was keen on the idea of an interview with the BBC, it is clear that the process for securing the interview fell far short of what audiences have a right to expect. We are very sorry for this. Lord Dyson has identified clear failings."
Davie added, "While today's BBC has significantly better processes and procedures, those that existed at the time should have prevented the interview being secured in this way. The BBC should have made greater effort to get to the bottom of what happened at the time and been more transparent about what it knew. While the BBC cannot turn back the clock after a quarter of a century, we can make a full and unconditional apology. The BBC offers that today."