Princess Diana And Martin Bashir's Panorama Interview, Explained

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Set in the early to late '90s, Season Five of "The Crown" depicts the end stages of Princess Diana's marriage to Prince Charles.

The couple formally separated in 1992 amid media scrutiny (and one tell-all biography). And in 1995, Diana gave an interview with BBC's Panorama news program, giving audiences an inside glimpse at the Prince and Princess of Wales's marriage.

Diana sat down with journalist Martin Bashir for an interview that aired on Monday, Nov. 20, 1995. Some 23 million U.K. residents watched the program live, per the BBC.

In the interview, Diana spoke candidly about her life in the royal family addressing infidelity in her marriage with the now King Charles III and whether she wanted a divorce. She said the famous words, “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded," referring to Charles' relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles, now queen consort.

The BBC had ordered an internal investigation about how the interview came to be in 1996. Following public complaints from Diana's brother, Charles Spencer, in 2020, the BBC ordered an independent investigation into how Bashir was able to secure the interview after Diana's brother, Charles Spencer, accused the broadcaster of using dubious methods and "sheer dishonesty" to convince Diana to sit for the interview, the BBC reported.

Season Five of "The Crown" delves into the makings of the interview, with Elizabeth Debicki playing Diana and Prasanna Puwanarajah as Martin Bashir.

Here's what Diana said during the famous interview — and the results of the investigation.

What did Diana reveals during the Panorama interview?

Diana spoke with Bashir in 1995, three years into her separation from Charles and one year before the pair divorced in 1996. While the BBC has vowed to never air the interview again, transcripts of the full interview are available.

Diana admitting to having an affair is among the bombshell revelations discussed in the 53-minute interview. The Princess of Wales told Bashir she had an affair with retired British Army officer James Hewitt, according to a transcript of the interview.

Toward the end of the interview, Bashir asked if Diana believed she would ever be queen. "No, I don’t, no," she answered.

"I’d like to be a queen of people’s hearts, in people’s hearts, but I don’t see myself being queen of this country," she said. "I don’t think many people will want me to be queen."

The controversy and 2020 investigation

Soon after the interview aired, BBC graphic designer Matt Wiessler raised concerns about how Bashir obtained the interview with the network, according to an independent report published by former British Supreme Court Justice Lord John Dyson in 2020.

Wiessler told the BBC that Bashir approached him and asked him to forge bank documents so that he could develop his relationship with Diana's brother, according to the report. The report found that the fake documents "deceived and induced (Spencer) to arrange a meeting" with the princess.

The BBC opened its own investigation into the forgery in 1996, but found the forged documents didn't influence Diana's participation in the interview. (The network called its internal probe "woefully ineffective" in 2021.)

Charles Spencer raised the issue again in 2020, around the 25th anniversary of the interview. Responding to Spencer's public complaints, the BBC named Lord John Dyson — who had served as the second most senior judge in England and Wales — to head an independent investigation into the interview in 2020.

Dyson published his findings in May 2021. The report found the initial BBC investigation "covered up" facts and that Bashir used "deceitful behavior" to secure Diana's interview.

The BBC issued a "full and unconditional apology" for what it called "clear failings" found in the report.

“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," Tim Davie, director general of the BBC, said in a statement.

The network added it should have made a "greater effort to get to the bottom of what happened at the time and been more transparent about what it knew," and while it now has better procedures in place, "those that existed at the time should have prevented the interview being secured in this way."

What happened to Martin Bashir and where is he now?

Bashir left his position as the BBC's Religion Editor a few days before the release of the report, citing ongoing health issues. He apologized for the forged bank statements, calling them "a stupid thing to do," but maintained they had no influence on Diana's participation in the interview, according to the BBC.

In the 2021 book "The Palace Papers," Tina Brown, author of the Princess Diana biography "The Diana Chronicles," revisited the princess's complicity in the interview.

Gulu Lalvani, who dated Diana, told Brown, "She said she had no regrets about the interview and made clear that she had said exactly what she wanted to say on camera.”

In Brown's words, "(Diana's) ‘purpose’ was to frame herself to the British public as a betrayed woman before an increasingly inevitable divorce from Charles.”

Diana’s friends also added, per Brown, that she “didn’t have a bad word to say about Martin Bashir."

Prince William and Harry responded to the Dyson report

Diana and Charles' two children, William, now Prince of Wales, and Harry, the Duke of Sussex, spoke out after the release of the Dyson report. William said in a May 2021 statement the findings "not only let my mother down, and my family down; they let the public down too."

"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.

"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," he continued. "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."

William added he thought the Panorama interview should never be aired again, which the BBC has said it will "never" play again.

In his own statement, Harry thanked "those who have taken some form of accountability," and called the report "the first step toward justice and truth."

“The ripple effect of a culture of exploitation and unethical practices ultimately took her life," Harry said of his mother.

"Our mother lost her life because of this, and nothing has changed," he said. "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."

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