Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, blamed the BBC on Thursday for “fake news” reporting in 1995 that he said contributed to his mother Princess Diana’s divorce and death.
“BBC employees lied and use fake documents to obtain the interview with my mother, made lurid and false claims about the royal family which played on her fears and fueled paranoia, displayed woeful incompetence when investigating complaints and concerns about the program, and were evasive in their reporting to the media and covered up what they knew from their internal investigation,” William said in a speech shared on the royal social media accounts.
A statement on today’s report of The Dyson Investigation pic.twitter.com/uS62CNwiI8
— The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@KensingtonRoyal) May 20, 2021
William’s comments come shortly after BBC issued an apology following an investigation into Diana’s 1995 interview with Martin Bashir, who is still employed by the media organization.
The BBC began an internal inquiry into the matter in 1996 which found that Bashir worked with a graphic designer at the news company to forge “some bank statements” which were later used to trick Diana’s brother Charles Spencer into making an introduction between the two. Altered documents “suggested the palace staff were working against Princess Diana and being paid to spy on her.”
After the 1996 inquiry found that the documents used to obtain access to Diana did not affect her willingness to be interviewed, BBC reopened the investigation nearly 25 years later in late 2020 and admitted on Thursday that the media organization exchanged its “high standards of integrity and transparency” for the interview.
Lord Dyson, a retired judge, led the investigation and found that not only did Bashir use deceitful means to persuade Diana to give him an interview but the BBC assisted in covering up how the journalist managed to land the landmark conversation. Since the report was published on Thursday, the BBC issued apologies to William, Prince Harry, Prince Charles, Spencer, and willingly yielded any awards it received for the interview. The Metropolitan Police previously nixed the idea of a criminal investigation but said it will reopen a review after seeing the report.
The BBC’s decades of inaction and lack of concern, William said, as presented in the report not only suggests that that the “deceitful way the interview was obtained substantially influenced what my mother said,” but he also suggested that the results of it made his parents’ relationship “worse.”
“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,” William said. “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’d been deceived. 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.”
In addition to scolding the BBC and urging them to rethink the Panorama program that he said “established a false narrative, which for over a quarter of a century has been commercialized by the BBC and others,” William said that the press’s failure to conduct fair and accurate reporting is the most hurtful to him and others.
“In an era of fake news, public service broadcasting, and a free press have never been more important. These failings, identified by investigative journalists, have only let my mother down and my family down. They have let the public down too,” he said.