Princess Diana Was “Pleased” with BBC Panorama Interview

In her new book, The Palace Papers, Tina Brown writes that the late Princess of Wales had “no regrets” about the controversial sitdown with Martin Bashir.

Princess Diana
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It was the controversial 1995 interview that still makes headlines today for how it was obtained; the interview that, ultimately, was the final nail in the coffin of a long-suffering marriage between Prince Charles and Princess Diana. But, according to a new book from longtime royal biographer and former editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker Tina Brown, Diana had no regrets about her BBC Panorama interview with Martin Bashir.

Not only did the Princess of Wales have no regrets about the interview, she was “pleased” with it and “didn’t have a bad word to say” about Bashir, writes Brown in her forthcoming book The Palace Papers, out later this month and excerpted by Vanity Fair, via the Mirror. In the explosive interview, Diana spoke candidly about her failing marriage to Charles, who she had been separated from since 1992. It’s from this interview that Diana’s famous there was “three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded” line came. (Last year, a report by Lord Dyson found that Bashir deceived Diana’s brother in order to secure the interview. Both of Diana’s sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, spoke out forcefully about the interview in separate statements thereafter.)

Brown—who, in addition to her new book, also wrote 2007’s The Diana Chronicles—writes that friends of Diana’s “made clear that she had said exactly what she wanted to say on camera.”

“I don’t subscribe to the now pervasive narrative that Diana was a vulnerable victim of a media manipulation, a mere marionette tossed about by malign forces beyond her control,” Brown writes. “While strongly sympathetic to her sons’ pain, I find it offensive to present the canny, resourceful Diana as a woman of no agency, as either a foolish, duped child or the hapless casualty of malevolent muckrackers.”

Just one month before Diana’s death in a Paris car crash in August 1997, Brown (then editor-in-chief at The New Yorker), Diana, and Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour sat down for a power lunch if there ever was one in July, just one month before the accident.

“I was bowled over by the confident, skillful way she wooed us,” Brown writes. “Diana was always more beautiful in person than in photographs—the huge, limpid blue eyes, the soft peach skin, the supermodel height. She told us her story of loneliness and hurt at Charles’ hands with an irresistible soulful intimacy that sucked us in, then switched to a startlingly sophisticated vision of how she planned to leverage her celebrity for the causes she cared about with a series of TV specials, 24 years before Harry and Meghan’s incoherent multimedia plans.”

Unfortunately, the princess never lived to see those plans come to fruition.

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.