Princess Diana is currently at the forefront of many people’s minds thanks to The Crown. If we’re honest, Princess Diana is always at the forefront of many people’s minds. Even before she passed, she had an aura and personality which was loved. Beyond love, Princess Diana fascinated people. She still does.
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With all the frenzy surrounding the final season of The Crown, dividing critics worldwide, we chose to look at the past and were surprised to see that it can enlighten the present.
Princess Diana’s 1995 BBC interview
This interview is famous worldwide. In 1995, it was seen as journalistic mastery. To have the Princess of Wales on the BBC talk about her marital issues, mental health and the Royal Family in such an open way was mind blowing.
Vogue reports that when it aired it ‘dominated television chyrons and newspaper headlines around the world’. And with good reason. Then Prince Charles had given an interview just before in which he admitted to adultery.
However, in 2020, the 1995 interview was tainted when it was revealed that Martin Bashir had manipulated the Spencers into agreeing to the interview. It involved forged bank statements to force the hand of Diana’s brother and abusing the late Princess’ paranoia.
Since the backstory of this interview has been released in full by an investigation, it has somehow added to the mysticism around it. Moreover, though it is proven that Bashir did indeed manipulate the Princess and those around her in order to gain access, the interview remains something that Princess Diana agreed to do. Of course, having known everything would she had done so?
Knowing all this, we looked at the interview again and one detail piqued our attention.
Princess Diana’s insight
Towards the end of the interview, the line of Bashir’s questioning angles towards the British Monarchy. Bashir asks the Princess point blank:
Do you feel that you're at all to blame for the fact that survival of the monarchy is now a question that people are asking?
She admits that she’s heard the accusations saying that ‘Diana’s out to destroy the monarchy’ but that it is wrong. She answers coolly 'why would I want to destroy something that is my children's future.' Bashir continues and asks her if the ‘monarchy needs to adapt and to change in order to survive?’
It is 1995 when the question is asked, and yet, this question still resonates in 2023. Princess Diana’s answer is enlightening. She says:
I understand that change is frightening for people, especially if there's nothing to go to. It's best to stay where you are. I understand that.
But I do think that there are a few things that could change, that would alleviate this doubt, and sometimes complicated relationship between monarchy and public. I think they could walk hand in hand, as opposed to be so distant.
She then explains that the change will come with Prince William and Prince Harry and talks about how she has exposed them to social issues such as homelessness and AIDS. She also expresses her hopes for the future of the monarchy:
I would like a monarchy that has more contact with its people - and I don't mean by riding round bicycles and things like that, but just having a more in-depth understanding.
In 2023, these words are striking especially in light of Prince William’s statements at the Earthshot Prize in Singapore where he said that he wants to ‘go a step further’ and go ‘deeper and longer’ than any royal before him.
Princess Diana on King Charles
Continuing to talk about the future of the monarchy, Bashir asked the Princess of Wales if her husband ‘would wish to be king’. Her answer to that question confirms something that came to light very recently, during his Speech at the State Opening of Parliament.
Then, many agreed that King Charles failed to remain deadpan and it was highlighted that the speech was hard on him as he had continuously worked in opposing directions to the words he was speaking. The stance of the government on climate change and the environment directly opposes King Charles’ previous work.
On that Diana said:
There was always conflict on that subject with him when we discussed it, and I understood that conflict, because it's a very demanding role, being Prince of Wales, but it's an equally more demanding role being King.
And being Prince of Wales produces more freedom now, and being King would be a little bit more suffocating. And because I know the character I would think that the top job, as I call it, would bring enormous limitations to him, and I don't know whether he could adapt to that.
As we are still in King Charles' coronation year, the matter of his ability to adapt to his new role is on everyone's mind. But apparently, that has always been the case.
Vogue: The Crown: The dark true story behind Princess Diana’s explosive BBC interview
PBS archive - Princess Diana 1995 BBC interview