15 million people sat down to watch Princess Diana appear on a BBC Panorama interview in 1995 that, as it unfolded, threatened to change the Royal Family forever. Over the course of the hour, she wreaked such damage on the House of Windsor that many wondered if the monarchy had a future. She cast light on Prince Charles‘ affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, admitted to infidelity herself, with James Hewitt, and also questioned the capability of the Prince of Wales to rule as King after the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II.
Her claims “made her a figure of undiluted hate in the royal household”, biographer Paul Scott writes in 2005 book “Tony & Cherie Blair: A Special Relationship”.
She described the Prince’s family as the “enemy” and said that the “monarchy was in desperate need of modernisation”.
Buckingham Palace, she told interviewer Martin Bashir, made her life intolerable after her split with Charles in 1992.
She said: ”Visits abroad were blocked and letters were lost when I became seen as a problem – the enemy was my husband’s department.”
Fred Barbash wrote for The Washington Post in 1995 that “Buckingham Palace was reported to be furious that she had given no notice of the interview to the Queen or to officials there”.
The programme’s timing, for a start, could not have been more unfortunate or poignant as it was announced on Prince Charles’ 47th birthday and broadcast on the Queen’s 48th wedding anniversary.
The Guardian newspaper reported the day after the Panorama interview aired that: “The reaction from the Palace is that she has let the Queen down – and that has come across loud and clear.”
In December 1995, the Queen asked Charles and Diana for an “early divorce”, as a “direct result” of the Princess’ Panorama interview.
Sandy Henney, Prince Charles’ former Press Secretary, reveals in the BBC’s “Reinventing the Royals” documentary that Charles was “getting some pretty virulent criticism” when she started the job in 1993 as he was accused of being a “bad father” and an “unloving husband”.
She added: “I think he was pretty hurt, if you’ve got a middle-aged balding man and a beautiful princess, it’s a no-brainer as to who is going to get the media coverage.”
This resulted in claims that Prince William was left “deeply upset” by the Panorama interview, which took aim at William’s father.
In 2017 Amazon Prime documentary “William and Harry: Brothers in Arms”, Vanity Fair’s royal correspondent Katie Nicholl said: “William was exposed to everything from the interview and called his mother in a fury and a rage.”
Recalling a conversation with Diana’s close friend Simone Simmons, she added: “[She told me] it was the one time William turned on his mother and said, that he would never forgive Diana for what she’d done.”
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