Princess Diana Said She Felt Like a “Product That Sits on a Shelf” as a Member of the Royal Family

Princess Diana said in her bombshell 1995 BBC interview that she felt like "a good product that sits on a shelf" as a member of the royal family.

canada september 26 diana, princess of wales during an official visit to edmonton, canada photo by tim graham photo library via getty images
(Image credit: Tim Graham)
  • Princess Diana said in her bombshell 1995 BBC interview (opens in new tab) that she felt like "a good product that sits on a shelf" as a member of the royal family.
  • Diana said being in the media spotlight was "an isolating experience."
  • "The higher the media put you," she said, "the bigger the drop. And I was very aware of that."

Princess Diana's bombshell 1995 interview with BBC journalist Martin Bashir is firmly back in the headlines 25 years later, thanks to allegations from Diana's brother, Charles Spencer, (opens in new tab) that Diana was duped into taking part in the Panorama interview through the use of fake bank documents. While many of Diana's explosive revelations about her life in the royal family are so widely documented as to be quotable—"there were three of us in this marriage," for instance—some of Diana's quieter comments are less well known, but just as telling.

Diana spoke about the pressure of the media spotlight, and subsequently beginning to perceive herself as a "product"—and a highly profitable one, too. "My husband and I, we were told when we got engaged that the media would go quietly, and it didn't, and then when we were married they said it would go quietly and it didn't," she said, as E! News reports. (opens in new tab) "And then it started to focus very much on me, and I seemed to be on the front of a newspaper every single day, which is an isolating experience, and the higher the media put you, place you, the bigger the drop. And I was very aware of that."

"During the years, you see yourself as a good product that sits on a shelf and sells well, and people make a lot of money out of you," she added.

vienna, austria april 16 diana, princess of wales, wearing a midnight blue velvet, off the shoulder evening dress designed by victor edelstein, a sapphire, diamond and peal choker and diamond and sapphire earrings, attends a state banquet on april 16, 1986 in vienna, austria photo by anwar husseinwireimage

(Image credit: Anwar Hussein)

In the interview, during which she notably spoke about her experiences of bulimia and self-harm as well as her troubled marriage to Prince Charles, Diana said she resented being portrayed as intellectually inferior to her husband. "I made the grave mistake once of saying to a child I was thick as a plank, in order to ease the child's nervousness, which it did," she said. "But that headline went all round the world, and I rather regret saying it."

Diana said she and her estranged husband had interests in common: "We both liked people, both liked country life, both loved children, work in the cancer field, work in hospices." But when it came to her own interests? "I don't think I was allowed to have any," she said. "I think that I've always been the 18-year-old girl he got engaged to, so I don't think I've been given any credit for growth. And, my goodness, I've had to grow."

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prince charles and diana, princess of wales 1961 1997 at the perth hockey stadium in bentley, perth, western australia, 7th april 1983 diana is wearing a pink suit by donald campbell photo by jayne fincherprincess diana archivegetty images

(Image credit: Princess Diana Archive)
Emily Dixon
Morning Editor

Emily Dixon is a British journalist who’s contributed to CNN, Teen Vogue, Time, Glamour, The Guardian, Wonderland, The Big Roundtable, Bust, and more, on everything from mental health to fashion to political activism to feminist zine collectives. She’s also a committed Beyoncé, Kacey Musgraves, and Tracee Ellis Ross fan, an enthusiastic but terrible ballet dancer, and a proud Geordie lass.