The creators of The Princess, an HBO documentary about Princess Diana that premiered on Saturday, are defending their use of a controversial interview clip that Prince William previously said “holds no legitimacy.”
The interview clip, which comes from the infamous November 1995 BBC Panorama interview with journalist Martin Bashir, captures the moment that Diana says “there were three people” in her marriage with Prince Charles, referring to his affair with Camilla Parker Bowles. Last year, Prince William denounced the interview after the BBC found that the journalist had deceived the “people’s princess” to secure the interview in the first place.
“This feature documentary tells the story of Princess Diana exclusively through archive footage from the time, without commentary from today,” a spokesperson for the documentary told People, defending the film. “This interview is shown briefly, in context, as a moment of historical record.”
The Princess originally premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival in January. As Rolling Stone’s David Fear wrote in his review, the use of archival footage was a “stroke of genius.”
The controversy, however, lies in the usage of the Panorama interview, which BBC performed an internal review of in recent years. The broadcasting company found Bashir had deceived Diana and made false claims to gain her trust. In 2021, Prince William called the findings “extremely concerning.”
“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, adding that the program “holds no legitimacy and should never be aired again.”
Last month, the BBC even announced that it will “never show the program again” nor license it to other broadcasters. (The head of BBC also apologized to Prince Charles and Prince Harry.)
The story of Princess Diana is told in The Princess fully through archival footage and commentary, spanning from the early days of her relationship with Prince Charles to her tragic death at age 36 in a Paris car crash.
“I come out the other end of it actually feeling a lot more sympathetic towards the specific characters involved and the challenges that those roles that they are born into put upon them,” director Ed Perkins told People about the film. “Ultimately, it’s the story of a woman who spent half her life ‘as the most famous person in the world.’ That’s an extraordinary thing to even comprehend.”