It’s no secret that the Royal Family has had its fair share of scandals and hardships. From sibling rivalries to divorces, the Royals are just like any other family when it comes to disfunction, it’s just that when something goes wrong in the house of Windsor, the entire world is watching.
On this day in 1995, Princess Diana’s controversial tell-all interview with Martin Bashir for the BBC show “Panorama” sent shockwaves through the monarchy.
The 34-year-old Princess of Wales spoke candidly about her struggle with postpartum depression, self-harm, her struggle with eating disorder and the shame she felt of being “unable to cope with the pressures” of being a public figure.
According to Diana, her private battle with bulimia was “a symptom” of the state of her marriage with Charles and the first glimpse into the less than picture perfect relationship between the Prince and Princess of Wales.
“I was crying out for help,” Diana said of her eating disorder, “but giving out the wrong signals.”
Diana told Bashir that the label of being “unstable” that was given to her during her postpartum depression, followed her through her years with bulimia.
The admissions of her poor mental health were attributed to the “isolation” Diana felt in her marriage to Charles. The Princess admitted to Bashir that she was aware of her husband’s rekindled relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles (now Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall).
“There were three of us in the marriage, so it was a bit crowded, ” Diana famously told Bashir.
Although Diana spoke in detail about her sadness at the dissolution of her marriage, she did confirm rumours of an affair with James Hewitt, a former cavalry officer in the British Army and the Princess’s former riding instructor.
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In 1994, Hewitt collaborated with author Anna Pasternak on the book “Princess In Love,” detailing his relationship with Diana from 1986 to 1991.
“Yes, I adored him,” Diana told Bashir after confirming they were more than “close friends.” “Yes, I was in love with him. But I was very let down."
Although many remember Diana’s admission, many forget that it was Charles who first confirmed that he was unfaithful in his marriage.
In 1994, Prince Charles agreed to an interview with Jonathan Dimbleby, who had recently authored the book, “The Prince of Wales: A Biography.” Although the interview featured footage filmed over the course of a year and a half, it was Charles's admission of infidelity which made the most headlines.At the time, Charles and Diana had been legally separated for two years.
When asked by Dimbleby if he was faithful during his marriage, Charles replied “Yes,” before adding “Until it became irretrievably broken down, us both having tried."
Diana’s interview was reportedly the catalyst for Queen Elizabeth to reach out to Charles, urging her son and heir to the British throne to seek an “early divorce” from his estranged wife of almost 15 years.
Although it was a memorable interview, Diana’s sit-down with Bahsir was mired in controversy. In 2021, an independent inquiry by Lord John Dyson, a former judge and barrister, into the interview found that the BBC was “deceitful” in acquiring the Princess to agree to the interview.
According to reports, Bashir met with Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, with fake documents alleging that people close to the Princess of Wales were being paid to spy on her in order for Spencer to arrange a meeting between his sister and Bashir.
Prince William issued public statement following Dyson’s report, in which he told reporters, ““It is my view that the deceitful way the interview was obtained substantially influenced what my mother said. The interview was a major contribution to making my parents’ relationship worse and has since hurt countless others.”