"The BBC's failures contributed significantly to her fear, paranoia and isolation that I remember from those final years with her," Prince William said

By Simon Perry and Karen Mizoguchi
May 20, 2021 05:00 PM
Advertisement

Prince William and Prince Harry are reacting to the official inquiry into circumstances that led up to their late mother Princess Diana's BBC Panorama interview in 1995.

In a statement released on Thursday, William strongly criticized the "deceitful way the interview was obtained" and defended his beloved mother.

"I would like to thank Lord Dyson and his team for the report," the Duke of Cambridge began his statement, thanking the British judge John Anthony Dyson, who led the investigation. "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 fuelled paranoia; displayed woeful incompetence when investigating complaints and concerns about the programme; and were evasive in their reporting to the media and covered up what they knew from their internal investigation."

William continued, "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."

Diana, Princess of Wales, during her interview with Martin Bashir for the BBC
Princess Diana during her Panorama interview
| Credit: PA Images

On Thursday, Lord Dyson publicly released his report into whether BBC reporter Martin Bashir deceived Diana's brother Charles Spencer into introducing him to the princess. In the interview, for Panorama in November 1995, Diana famously said there were "three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded." She was divorced from Charles the following year, and tragically died following a car crash in Paris in 1997.

prince william
Prince William
| Credit: Kensington Palace

"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 said in his statement.

"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," he said of the network and of Bashir, though he did not specifically name him.

"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," William said. (However, on Thursday night, the BBC aired a special titled Princess Diana, Martin Bashir and the BBC.)

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.

William concluded, "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."

Diana in the Panorama interview
Princess Diana during her Panorama interview
| Credit: Getty Images

Prince Harry also released a powerful statement in response to the inquiry, saying, "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.

"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."

Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex
Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex
| Credit: Chris Jackson - Pool/Getty

In November, when the inquiry was just started, William tentatively welcomed it, saying, "The independent investigation is a step in the right direction. 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."

Diana was infamously candid in the interview with Bashir, in November 1995. She opened up about her struggle with bulimia, the breakdown of her marriage to Prince Charles, the pressures of wedding a future monarch and raising young sons. She died less than two years later at 36.