(LONDON) — The BBC has formally apologized to members of the royal family for the bombshell 1995 interview between the late Princess Diana and then-BBC journalist Martin Bashir.
A report last year found that Bashir had “deceived and induced” Diana to obtain the interview.
The network issued the apology to Prince Charles and Princes William and Harry on Thursday. It was delivered by Tim Davie, director-general of the BBC, who said in a statement the outlet would “never show the programme again … nor will we license it in whole or in part to other broadcasters.”
“It is a matter of great regret that the BBC did not get to the facts in the immediate aftermath of the programme when there were warning signs that the interview might have been obtained improperly,” Davie stated.
“Instead, as The Duke of Cambridge himself put it, the BBC failed to ask the tough questions,” he continued. “Had we done our job properly Princess Diana would have known the truth during her lifetime. We let her, The Royal Family and our audiences down.”
More than 23 million people watched the Panorama interview that Bashir did with Diana, who died just two years later, in August 1997, after a car crash in the Pont D’Alma tunnel in Paris. William and younger brother Harry were 15 and 12, respectively, when their mother died.
Diana’s comments in that interview about her marriage to Prince Charles and his alleged affair with his now-wife Camilla, the duchess of Cornwall, sent shock waves throughout the world — and the royal family. Diana and Charles divorced just one year after the interview aired, in 1996.
Despite vowing to never re-air or distribute the interview again, Davie said Thursday that “it does of course remain part of the historical record and there may be occasions in the future when it will be justified for the BBC to use short extracts for journalistic purposes, but these will be few and far between and will need to be agreed at Executive Committee level and set in the full context of what we now know about the way the interview was obtained.”
“I would urge others to exercise similar restraint,” he added.
After last year’s report, which was released following an inquiry by Lord Dyson, William and Harry issued statements reacting to the news.
“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,” William said at the time. “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.”
“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 added. “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.”
Harry issued his own statement on the matter.
“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,” he said.
“To those who have taken some form of accountability, thank you for owning it,” he continued. “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,” Harry concluded. “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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