William 'frustrated' at Crown's 'commercialisation' of interview
27th October 2021

Prince William is ‘frustrated’ at The Crown’s ‘commercialisation’ of infamous Martin Bashir interview with Princess Diana that he believes holds ‘no legitimacy’ and should never be aired again

  • An entire episode in upcoming fifth series will be dedicated to the shocking BBC sit down with Princess Diana 
  • Duke of Cambridge understood to be deeply frustrated by broadcasters who have cashed in on the interview 
  • He slammed Panorama episode in May, saying: ‘It is my firm view that this programme holds no legitimacy’ 
  • William said Bashir’s deceit in obtaining his 1995 sit down with Princess Diana hastened his parents’ divorce  

Prince William is ‘frustrated’ at The Crown’s ‘commercialisation’ of Martin Bashir’s notorious interview with his mother Princess Diana which he believes holds ‘no legitimacy’ and should never be aired again. 

The Duke of Cambridge is understood to be deeply frustrated by broadcasters who have cashed in on the interview, in which Diana infamously said, ‘There were three of us in this marriage’. 

He slammed the BBC sit down in May, saying: ‘It is my firm view that this Panorama programme 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 commercialised by the BBC and others.’

Following news a recreation will now be aired on Netflix, a royal source told the Telegraph: ‘His words still stand.’

Despite the wave of criticism, insiders said The Crown will include an episode on it after millions were said to have been spent on the pivotal part of the upcoming instalment.

Netflix drama The Crown will dramatise Princess Diana’s controversial 1995 interview with Martin Bashir, despite Prince William’s request for it to be taken off-air 

An updated handout photo issued by Netflix of Elizabeth Debicki as Diana, Princess of Wales appearing in the fifth season of the streaming website’s show, The Crown

The Duke of Cambridge is understood to be deeply frustrated by broadcasters who have cashed in on the interview, in which Diana famously said, ‘there were three of us in this marriage’

Scotland Yard’s decision not to launch a criminal probe into the Martin Bashir scandal is ‘mystifying’, says top lawyer 

A leading lawyer has described Scotland Yard’s decision not to launch a criminal probe into the Martin Bashir scandal as ‘mystifying’.

Quentin Hunt, a barrister who specialises in fraud and counterfeiting cases, believes there is enough evidence in the public domain about the disgraced reporter’s activities for the Metropolitan Police to investigate.

The Mail on Sunday revealed last week how Princess Diana ‘s brother Earl Spencer was so incensed by the decision that he is considering mounting private criminal prosecutions.

Mr Hunt believes there are ‘strong grounds’ for an investigation into allegations of forgery and so-called ‘fraud by false representation’.

On the Met’s decision, he said: ‘It’s mystifying, to be honest, because there’s prima facie evidence of illegality in the public domain.’

An entire episode in the upcoming fifth series will be dedicated to the shocking sit down despite the Prince Harry signing a £112million deal with the streaming service for him and his wife Meghan.

The royal has been scathing of the Panorama show, which was first shown in 1995 and saw his mother air her dirty laundry on Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles.

He branded it ‘unethical’ and claimed the interview triggered the events that caused his mother to lose her life two years later.

Reacting to Lord Dyson’s damning report into how the original interview was obtained, the Duke of Sussex said in May: ‘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 William was also scathing, saying at the time: ‘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.’

He said: ‘It is my view that the deceitful way the interview was obtained substantially influenced what my mother said.’

He added: ‘This Panorama programme 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 commercialised by the BBC and others.’

Lord Dyson’s inquiry found Bashir had lied to obtain the interview, using ‘deceitful’ methods later covered up by a ‘woefully ineffective’ internal investigation by Tony Hall, who later became BBC director-general.

The independent report plunged the BBC into one of the worst crises in its history, with the two royals accusing it of ruining their mother’s life and helping to bring about the events that led to her death two years later.

Despite this, Prince Harry’s bosses at Netflix insist the special episode will go ahead as planned, according to senior sources.

The insiders told the Sun newspaper last night: ‘The Crown’s creators see the interview as the keystone moment in series five.

‘To the writers, the stormy marriage between Charles and Di led up to her outpouring on Panorama, and the aftermath of that decision defined her final months.

‘They are making a huge investment in that. The Crown has a track record of delving into areas of the Royal Family’s history they’d rather be left alone.’

An inquiry by Lord Dyson in May found Bashir (pictured) had lied to obtain the interview, using ‘deceitful’ methods later covered up by a ‘woefully ineffective’ internal investigation by Tony Hall, who later became BBC director-general

Senior sources insisted Netflix, which struck a £112million deal with Harry and Meghan (pictured) after they quit royal duties, is going ahead with the special episode

Bashir (left) faked bank statements to get to Diana while the BBC’s former director-general, Lord Hall of Birkenhead (right), has been accused of protecting him following his famous 1995 interview

Controversy: Bashir has been accused of spinning a web of deceit to land his 1995 interview with Diana, including falsifying bank statements in order to gain access to the Royal (pictured during the interview)

Princess Diana’s brother Earl Spencer warns Met Police of plan to launch a private prosecution over the Martin Bashir affair after detectives drop probe into deception that landed BBC reporter his Panorama interview 

Princess Diana’s brother has told a senior police commander that he is considering mounting private criminal prosecutions over the Martin Bashir scandal – a move that will send shockwaves through the BBC .

Earl Spencer was angered by Scotland Yard’s decision last month to drop its probe into events surrounding disgraced Corporation reporter Martin Bashir’s 1995 Panorama interview with Diana.

Bashir showed Earl Spencer forged bank statements to gain access to the Princess and then tricked her by peddling a string of smears and lies, including that Prince William ‘s watch had been bugged to record her conversations.

William said the BBC’s failures contributed to his mother’s ‘fear, paranoia and isolation’ and hastened his parents’ divorce.

Following a devastating report into the scandal by former Supreme Court Judge Lord Dyson, the Metropolitan Police considered whether to launch an investigation into a range of potential offences, including forgery, misconduct in public office and blackmail.

Royal expert Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty Magazine, said: ‘This would be extremely upsetting and the only protection ­William has is not to watch it.’

Meanwhile royal commentator Margaret Holder added: ‘William was ­dismayed at the time. It is also embarrassing for Harry.’

According to a friend, Diana’s brother Earl Spencer claimed several crimes had been committed. He believed his vulnerable sister was spun a web of lies by Bashir who had established ‘coercive control’ over her.

By filling her mind with terrifying conspiracy theories and tricking her into the interview, he claims the rogue BBC reporter and his superiors had committed blackmail, fraud and obtaining property by deception.

He said that the corporation had cashed in when rights to the sensational interview were sold to other broadcasters around the world.

Bashir commissioned forged bank statements in flagrant breach of BBC rules to convince Earl Spencer to introduce him to Diana, Lord Dyson concluded in his excoriating inquiry.

The former religion editor admitted at the time to having the documents forged, but denied ever showing them to anybody.

Matt Wiessler, a graphic artist who said in 1996 Bashir had asked him to forge bank documents to help earn Diana’s trust, said his career was ruined after he spoke out and was blacklisted by the broadcaster.

Around two months after the BBC interview aired, Mr Wiessler said his house was broken into and CDs containing the forged documents stolen.

He also said work had dried up after the BBC blacklisted him, with documents released under freedom of information request backing up his account.

Bosses had issued an edict never to work with him, in part because he had spoken to the media about the documents.

Despite the fallout, it took until November 2020 for an inquiry to be established based on the Mail on Sunday’s reporting – culminating in the Dyson report.

The report slammed BBC bosses, including former director-general Tony Hall, for covering up information on how Bashir was able to secure the interview.

A 1996 internal inquiry into the interview was also slammed as ‘woefully ineffective’, forcing Tim Suter – another BBC boss who was part of the inquiry – to step down as chair of Ofcom.

The BBC has been plunged into one of the worst crises in its history by the explosive fallout from the scandal, with Princes William and Harry accusing the corporation of ruining their mother’s life with its ‘deceitful’ exclusive. Pictured: Diana with her sons 

Left: Elizabeth Debicki playing Princess Diana in series five of The Crown. Right: Emma Corrin Played a young Princess Diana in series four

Tony Hall left his job as head of the National Gallery, saying continuing in the role would be a ‘distraction’. Bashir, who was still working as the BBC’s religion editor, also quit the corporation in May, citing health issues.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said there were ‘very strong searching questions’ for the BBC.

The late Princess was portrayed by English actress Emma Corrin for the The Crown’s fourth series. She will be replaced by Australian star Elizabeth Debicki for series five on the final years of her life. 

Confirming her appointment in an official statement, Debicki said: ‘Princess Diana’s spirit, her words and her actions live in the hearts of so many.

‘It is my true privilege and honour to be joining this masterful series, which has had me absolutely hooked from episode one.’

It’s understood that Netflix is also looking for a teenage actor to portray Prince William, now 39, as a 13-year old boy.

The Crown is known for sparking controversy and it has often been reported Royals have been left riled by storylines and inclusions on the show. 

Back In April, shortly after he passed away, it was alleged Prince Philip was upset by a ‘shockingly malicious’ episode of The Crown in which his father angrily blamed him for his sister’s death in a plane crash.

Royal experts said Philip had been hurt by the manner in which the 1937 death of Princess Cecilie of Greece and Denmark had been depicted in the drama – and renewed calls for Netflix to apologise and add a disclaimer.

Slurs during the first four series include the suggestions the Prince was a serial philanderer who had an affair with a ballerina, was involved in the Profumo sex scandal and delivered a menacing threat to Princess Diana.

Producers of The Crown said they were ‘deeply saddened’ by his death, while actors Matt Smith and Tobias Menzies – who both played Philip over the four series – paid their own tributes.

Bashir commissioned forged bank statements (pictured) in flagrant breach of BBC rules to convince Earl Spencer to introduce him to Diana, Lord Dyson concluded in his excoriating inquiry

Netflix broke its silence on the controversy over The Crown last night, insisting there was no need to warn its millions of viewers that key scenes are invented. Pictured: Princess Diana shouts at Prince Charles in a scene from the latest series of The Crown

But the drama’s creator, Peter Morgan, and Netflix fell silent when asked if they would apologise for the portrayal of Philip.

In November, Netflix spoke out on controversy over The Crown, insisting there was no need to warn its millions of viewers key scenes are invented.

The streaming giant claimed it was widely understood the hit series was a ‘work of fiction’ based on historical events.

And it wrote to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, rejecting his suggestion that a disclaimer at the start of each episode would be helpful.

Netflix told The Mail on Sunday at the time: ‘We have always presented The Crown as a drama, and we have every confidence our members understand it’s a work of fiction that’s broadly based on historical events.

‘As a result, we have no plans – and see no need – to add a disclaimer.’ But the statement was described by one critic as ‘arrogant’. Others said the company’s intransigence was adding to the Family’s disquiet over the affair.

Netflix has been accused of escalating the row by urging viewers to watch an explosive documentary about Princess Diana which it said would provide ‘answers’ to criticism of The Crown.

Its tweet promoting the documentary – Diana: In Her Own Words – led to vicious online attacks on Charles and Camilla. The Queen’s ex-press secretary Dickie Arbiter accused Netflix of getting trolls ‘to do their dirty work’.

‘Queen eats for comfort, Edward has AIDS, Camilla is depressed, Charles is in love with the Nanny’: How Earl Spencer’s scribbled notes from first meeting between Princess Diana and Martin Bashir became key evidence in Panorama probe

A jaw-dropping list of smears and lies allegedly peddled by Martin Bashir to clinch his sensational Princess Diana scoop was recorded by her brother – including the Queen ‘eating for comfort’ and Charles being in love with the family nanny.

Earl Spencer kept meticulous notes of a meeting held on September 19, 1995, when he introduced the BBC man to his sister at her Knightsbridge flat.  

Earl Spencer’s records show that Bashir allegedly claimed that Diana’s private letters were being opened, her car tracked and phoned tapped with her bodyguard plotting against her, and close friends were betraying her.

Earl Spencer’s handwritten log of the meeting with Bashir at his sister’s flat in Knightsbridge also includes a note saying: ‘Camilla: depressed, but quiet for time being’. 

In an execrable reference to Prince Edward, Spencer recorded Bashir as saying that the Queen’s youngest son was receiving treatment for Aids at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London. Even the Queen was mentioned. Spencer noted Bashir as saying she was ‘very ill with heart problems’ and that she was a ‘comfort eater’.  

Earl Spencer (left) kept detailed notes when he met Martin Bashir (seen right holding a Bafta award for his Diana interview) when he met the BBC journalist with Diana at his sister’s flat 

Bashir is accused of effectively grooming the vulnerable princess by playing to her worst fears with a series of false claims

From officials bugging Diana’s car to warnings her reputation would be ‘destroyed’: Earl Spencer’s handwritten scraps that could shred Bashir’s career 

1: Diana’s ‘scum’ former bodyguard 

Bashir’s opening gambit that three MI6 agents had told him Prince Charles’s private secretary Richard Aylard was ‘orchestrating’ things surrounding Diana. This involved Ken Wharfe, Diana’s former bodyguard, described as ‘scum’.

Diana was already paranoid her staff and friends were betraying her and, at the meeting, the broadcaster allegedly brandished bank statements purportedly showing her closest aides were selling her secrets. 

2: Charles’ secretary ‘paid by Jonathan Dimbleby’ 

Aylard, it was claimed, had been paid by the broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby. A decision to reinvent the prince had been taken by aides two years earlier. A year later this allegedly included attacking both Diana and the Spencer family.

3: Charles ‘discussing ”end game”’

The notes, handed to Lord Dyson, include allegations MI6 had recorded Prince Charles and his private secretary planning the ‘end game’ – an extraordinary and false hint the heir to the throne was plotting to ‘destroy’ the Spencers and force them to flee to the US. 

Charles Spencer’s detailed notes, from one to five. The manila file contains notes of every meeting he had with Bashir, the logs of phone calls the BBC man made along with the faxes, the letters and even the gushing thank you cards that the reporter sent him

4: Spencers’ reputation ‘would be destroyed’ 

Spencers’ reputation to be destroyed. In another remark recorded by Earl Spencer, Bashir claimed Prince Charles wanted Spencer’s then wife, Victoria, dead. Diana meanwhile would be forced to move to America — possibly with her brother.

5: Will Carling affair claim

This relates to the stories during 1995 of the close friendship between Diana and the married England rugby captain Will Carling. Spencer notes Bashir’s assertion that the newspaper stories had been ‘fed’ by Carling’s wife Julia.

9: Diana’s car ‘bugged’

This note describes Bashir’s alleged claim that Diana had been bugged by officials 

The claim that Diana’s cars and phone lines being bugged and her post intercepted would have increased her worries she was being spied on. 

Bashir told Lord Dyson he would not have made these claims at a first meeting, the Telegraph reported.

17: Camilla ‘depressed’

Camilla was allegedly described by Bashir as ‘depressed, but quiet for the time being’. The second line refers to William and Harry’s nanny, Tiggy Legge-Bourke

In the interview, Diana made her feelings clear on Camilla, famously saying, ‘There are three of us in this marriage.’ 

Mentioning her could have been an attempt by Bashir to prompt her to speak out.

‘Tiggy’ is a reference to Tiggy Legge-Bourke, William and Harry’s nanny who Charles was accused of having an affair with in claims that were subsequently dismissed. 

17b: Philip’s ‘v unpleasant correspondence’

Earl Spencer recorded Bashir as describing ‘very unpleasant correspondence’ allegedly sent by Prince Philip to Diana and Sarah Ferguson

This claims Diana had received ‘v unpleasant correspondence’ from Philip and suggests he was annoyed at her ‘hero status’. 

It also references Edwina Mountbatten, the wife of Earl Mountbatten of Burma, who was known to have had affairs.

19: Fergie’s business deals in the US

Another reference to Sarah Ferguson, this time describing her trips to the US to try and forge a business career 

Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew divorced in 1996. This note refers to her numerous trips to the US to forge a business career.

It adds that Andrew still ‘look[ed] after her’ following their divorce by supporting her financially.

20: ‘Queen eats for comfort’  

This note suggests the Queen was unwell, stating ‘Queen ill: heart’ and adds she ‘eats for comfort’.

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