Prince William and Prince Harry have broken their silence about the results of the BBC's internal investigation into how Martin Bashir secured a bombshell 1995 interview with their mother, the late Princess Diana, with separate scathing statements.
The publicly funded British broadcaster released the report, headed by retired judge Lord John Dyson, on Thursday, May 20. The probe found that the journalist, who recently left the company, acted deceitfully by showing the Princess of Wales' brother Earl Charles Spencer fake bank statements in an attempt to secure the interview. During the famous sit-down for the Panorama program, which embarrassed the royal family and aired two years before Diana's death, the princess opened up for the first time about her failed marriage to William and Harry's father, Prince Charles.
"I would like to thank Lord Dyson and his team for the report," William read from a statement, as seen in a Twitter video released by Kensington Palace hours after the findings were made public. "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."
Diana and Charles split in 1992. Her interview, which was watched by more than 20 million people, marked the first time a royal has spoken so candidly to the press. During the sit-down, the princess broke her silence about her separation from Charles and rumors of infidelity, saying, "There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded," referring to his relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles. Diana and the Prince of Wales divorced in 1996, a year before she died at age 36 in a car crash, and he went on to marry Camilla, now the Duchess of Cornwall, in 2005.
In his statement, William said, "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. 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."
After the report was published, the BBC's director general, Tim Davie, said in a statement, "The BBC should have made greater effort to get to the bottom of what happened at the time and been more transparent about what it knew. While the BBC cannot turn back the clock after a quarter of a century, we can make a full and unconditional apology. The BBC offers that today."
In his own statement issued after the results of the probe were released, Harry said, "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. To those who have taken some form of accountability, thank you for owning it. 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."
He continued, "Our mother lost her life because of this, and nothing has changed. 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."
BBC launched its internal inquiry last November after Diana's brother called for an investigation into how Bashir secured his interview with his sister, claiming the journalist used forged bank statements to wrongfully show that the U.K.'s Security Services paid two senior aides for information on his sister. Earl Spencer also alleged that the BBC knew about the forgeries. After the probe was launched, William said in a statement that the inquiry was "a step in the right direction."
William said in his Thursday statement that he believes that the Panorama interview "holds no legitimacy and should never be aired again," adding, "in an era of fake news, public service broadcasting and a free press have never been more important. These failings, identified by investigative journalists, not only let my mother down, and my family down; they let the public down too."