Martin Bashir, the BBC journalist who duped late Princess Diana into giving an explosive interview, apologized to Britain’s Princes William and Harry on Sunday, but called claims linking his actions to her death “unreasonable.”
According to a report released on Thursday by retired senior judge John Dyson, Bashir commissioned faked bank statements that falsely suggested some of Diana’s closest aides were being paid by the security services to keep tabs on her.
Bashir, 58, then showed them to Diana’s brother Charles Spencer in an attempt to persuade him to set up a meeting between himself and Diana in order to gain her trust.
Bashir apologized to Diana’s sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, in the Sunday Times. “I never wanted to hurt Diana in any way, and I don’t think we did,” he told the newspaper.
However, William stated that Bashir’s actions and the interview “contributed significantly” to the breakdown of his parents’ relationship and “contributed significantly to her fear, paranoia, and isolation” in her final years.
Harry stated in his own release that the deceptive practices contributed to his mother’s death. “The ripple effect of an exploitation and unethical culture eventually took her life,” he said.
Diana died in a car accident in Paris in 1997, at the age of 36.
“I don’t feel I can be held responsible for many of the other things that were going on in her life, and the complex issues surrounding those decisions,” Bashir told the paper. “The suggestion that I am singularly responsible I think is unreasonable and unfair.”
He claimed that the 1995 interview was conducted on Diana’s terms, and that they remained firm friends after it aired to a 22.8 million-person audience.
“My family and I loved her,” he said, revealing that Diana had visited Bashir’s wife and newborn child in hospital and that the princess had thrown his eldest child a birthday party at Kensington Palace.
Bashir has stated that he regrets showing forged documents to Diana’s brother, but that it had “no bearing” on the revelations made during the interview.
Diana famously stated in it that “there were three people” in her marriage – her, Charles, and his long-time mistress and now wife, Camilla Parker-Bowles – and admitted to adultery.
Bashir was relatively unknown at the time, but he went on to have a high-profile career on American television networks, interviewing celebrities such as Michael Jackson.
The pop singer’s family also blames Bashir for his death, claiming that the aftermath of the interview caused him to become increasingly reliant on drugs.
Bashir was the BBC’s religion editor until he resigned last week, citing illness, just hours before Dyson’s report was submitted to BBC executives.
Diana famously confided in Bashir about her husband’s affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, now the Duchess of Cornwall, and revealed intimate details about their personal lives.
“There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a little crowded,” she famously said. Diana went on to say that she had been with “a husband who loved someone else,” and she openly discussed the breakdown of their marriage and the impact it had on her.
Diana also revealed that she was “in love” with someone else at one point, James Hewitt, a former household cavalry officer in the British Army, but was “very let down” by him after he spoke about her in a book.
The Panorama interview aired a year before Diana and Prince Charles divorced formally in 1996, despite the fact that they had separated in 1992.
What did Princess Diana say?
Following the divorce, Princess stated that “people’s agendas changed overnight,” and she was now viewed as a “problem” and “liability.”
Aside from the difficulties in the relationship, she questioned whether Prince Charles would make a suitable King one day and suggested she was not interested in becoming Queen herself. “I want to be a queen in people’s hearts, but I don’t see myself as Queen of this country,” she said during the interview.
She also opened up about her own mental health and well-being, including her experience with post-natal depression following the birth of Prince William.
When asked about the impact depression had on her marriage, the Princess cited a perceived lack of understanding at the time. “Well, it gave everyone a fantastic new label – Diana is unstable and mentally unbalanced. “Unfortunately, that appears to have persisted on and off over the years,” she explained.
She also discussed self-harm, saying, “I just hurt my arms and legs,” as well as her struggles with “rampant bulimia,” which she called a “symptom of what was going on in my marriage.”
Other topics discussed in the interview included dealing with “daunting” media attention and being followed by photographers, books written about her family, and her sometimes difficult relationship with other members of the Royal family.