Netflix is set to dramatise Princess Diana’s bombshell Panorama interview with disgraced BBC journalist Martin Bashir – despite Prince William’s demands that the interview be taken off air.
The fifth season of the streaming giant’s popular series The Crown will include an entire episode focusing on the royal’s controversial sit-down with Bashir in 1995, in which she sensationally said ‘there were three of us in the marriage’ – a reference to Charles and Camilla.
Netflix is understood to have spent millions on the episode, which insiders told The Sun will be pivotal to the upcoming installment. However, the decision to recreate the Panorama interview puts Netflix at odds with William, who called for it never to be aired again.
Earlier this year, the Duke of Cambridge hit out at Bashir’s shocking tactics – first exposed by The Mail on Sunday and later documented in a damning independent report by the former Master of the Rolls in May – to obtain his exclusive with his late mother.
The inquiry plunged the Corporation into one of the worst crises in its history, with Diana’s two sons William and Harry accusing it of ruining their mother’s life with its ‘deceitful’ interview and helping to bring about the tragic chain of events that led to her death two years later.
However, senior sources insisted Netflix, which struck a £112million deal with Harry and Meghan after they quit royal duties, is going ahead with the special episode.
They said: ‘The Crown’s creators see the interview as the keystone moment in series five. To the writers, the stormy marriage between Charles and Di led up to her outpouring on Panorama, and the aftermath of that decision defined her final months. They are making a huge investment in that. The Crown has a track record of delving into areas of the Royal Family’s history they’d rather be left alone.’
In a televised statement, William railed: ‘This Panorama programme holds no legitimacy and should never be aired again. It effectively established a false narrative which, for over a quarter of a century, has been commercialised by the BBC and others.’
The independent report found Bashir had lied to obtain the interview, using ‘deceitful’ methods later covered up by a ‘woefully ineffective’ internal investigation by Tony Hall, who later became BBC director-general.
Netflix drama The Crown will dramatise Princess Diana’s controversial 1995 interview with Martin Bashir, despite Prince William’s request for it to be taken off-air
Undated handout photo issued by Netflix of Elizabeth Debicki as Diana, Princess of Wales appearing in the fifth season of the streaming website’s show, The Crown
William (pictured during a filmed response to the report) privately vowed to continue his battle to uncover ‘the truth’ about how his mother came to be callously duped
An inquiry by Lord Dyson in May found Bashir (pictured) had lied to obtain the interview, using ‘deceitful’ methods later covered up by a ‘woefully ineffective’ internal investigation by Tony Hall, who later became BBC director-general
Senior sources insisted Netflix, which struck a £112million deal with Harry and Meghan (pictured) after they quit royal duties, is going ahead with the special episode
Scotland Yard’s decision not to launch a criminal probe into the Martin Bashir scandal is ‘mystifying’, says top lawyer
A leading lawyer has described Scotland Yard’s decision not to launch a criminal probe into the Martin Bashir scandal as ‘mystifying’.
Quentin Hunt, a barrister who specialises in fraud and counterfeiting cases, believes there is enough evidence in the public domain about the disgraced reporter’s activities for the Metropolitan Police to investigate.
The Mail on Sunday revealed last week how Princess Diana ‘s brother Earl Spencer was so incensed by the decision that he is considering mounting private criminal prosecutions.
Mr Hunt believes there are ‘strong grounds’ for an investigation into allegations of forgery and so-called ‘fraud by false representation’.
On the Met’s decision, he said: ‘It’s mystifying, to be honest, because there’s prima facie evidence of illegality in the public domain.’
Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty Magazine, said: ‘This would be extremely upsetting and the only protection William has is not to watch it.’
Royal commentator Margaret Holder added: ‘William was dismayed at the time. It is also embarrassing for Harry.’
According to a friend, Diana’s brother Earl Spencer claimed several crimes had been committed. He believed his vulnerable sister was spun a web of lies by Bashir who had established ‘coercive control’ over her.
By filling her mind with terrifying conspiracy theories and tricking her into the interview, he claims the rogue BBC reporter and his superiors had committed blackmail, fraud and obtaining property by deception – because the corporation cashed in when rights to the sensational interview were sold around the world.
Bashir commissioned forged bank statements in flagrant breach of BBC rules to convince Earl Spencer to introduce him to Diana, Lord Dyson concluded in his excoriating inquiry.
Bashir admitted at the time to having the documents forged, but denied ever showing them to anybody.
Matt Wiessler, a graphic artist who said back in 1996 that Bashir had asked him to forge bank documents to help earn Diana’s trust, said his career was ruined after he spoke out and was blacklisted by the broadcaster.
Around two months after the BBC interview aired, Mr Wiessler said his house was broken into and CDs containing the forged documents stolen.
He also said that work had dried up after the BBC blacklisted him, with documents released under freedom of information request backing his account up. Bosses had issued an edict never to work with him, in part because he had spoken to the media about the documents.
Despite the fallout, it took until November 2020 for an inquiry to be established based on the Mail on Sunday’s reporting – culminating in the Dyson report.
The report slammed BBC bosses, including former director-general Tony Hall, for covering up information on how Bashir was able to secure the interview.
Bashir (left) faked bank statements to get to Diana while the BBC’s former director-general, Lord Hall of Birkenhead (right), has been accused of protecting him following his famous 1995 interview
The BBC has been plunged into one of the worst crises in its history by the explosive fallout from the scandal, with Princes William and Harry accusing the corporation of ruining their mother’s life with its ‘deceitful’ exclusive. Pictured: Diana with her sons
Left: Elizabeth Debicki playing Princess Diana in series five of The Crown. Right: Emma Corrin Played a young Princess Diana in series four
Princess Diana’s brother Earl Spencer warns Met Police of plan to launch a private prosecution over the Martin Bashir affair after detectives drop probe into deception that landed BBC reporter his Panorama interview
Princess Diana’s brother has told a senior police commander that he is considering mounting private criminal prosecutions over the Martin Bashir scandal – a move that will send shockwaves through the BBC .
Earl Spencer was angered by Scotland Yard’s decision last month to drop its probe into events surrounding disgraced Corporation reporter Martin Bashir’s 1995 Panorama interview with Diana.
Bashir showed Earl Spencer forged bank statements to gain access to the Princess and then tricked her by peddling a string of smears and lies, including that Prince William ‘s watch had been bugged to record her conversations.
William said the BBC’s failures contributed to his mother’s ‘fear, paranoia and isolation’ and hastened his parents’ divorce.
Following a devastating report into the scandal by former Supreme Court Judge Lord Dyson, the Metropolitan Police considered whether to launch an investigation into a range of potential offences, including forgery, misconduct in public office and blackmail.
A 1996 internal inquiry into the interview was also slammed as ‘woefully ineffective’, forcing Tim Suter – another BBC boss who was part of the inquiry – to step down as chair of Ofcom.
Tony Hall also left his job as head of the National Gallery, saying that continuing in the role would be a ‘distraction’. Bashir, who was still working as the BBC’s religion editor, also quit the corporation in May this year, citing health issues.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said there were ‘very strong searching questions’ for the BBC.
In a televised statement delivered after Lord Dyson’s report was published, William said: ‘I would like to thank Lord Dyson and his team for the report.
‘It is welcome that the BBC accepts Lord Dyson’s findings in full – which are extremely concerning – that BBC employees: Lied and used fake documents to obtain the interview with my mother; Made lurid and false claims about the Royal Family which played on her fears and fuelled paranoia; Displayed woeful incompetence when investigating complaints and concerns about the programme; and were evasive in their reporting to the media and covered up what they knew from their internal investigation.
‘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.
‘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. It is my firm view that this Panorama programme holds no legitimacy and should never be aired again.
‘It effectively established a false narrative which, for over a quarter of a century, has been commercialised by the BBC and others. This settled narrative now needs to be addressed by the BBC and anyone else who has written or intends to write about these events.
‘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.’
Controversy: Bashir has been accused of spinning a web of deceit to land his 1995 interview with Diana, including falsifying bank statements in order to gain access to the Royal (pictured during the interview)
Bashir commissioned forged bank statements (pictured) in flagrant breach of BBC rules to convince Earl Spencer to introduce him to Diana, Lord Dyson concluded in his excoriating inquiry
Harry added: ‘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.
‘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.’
The late Princess was portrayed by English actress Emma Corrin for the The Crown’s fourth series. She will be replaced by Australian star Elizabeth Debicki for series five, which is expected to document the final years of her life.
Confirming her appointment in an official statement, Debicki said: ‘Princess Diana’s spirit, her words and her actions live in the hearts of so many. It is my true privilege and honour to be joining this masterful series, which has had me absolutely hooked from episode one.’
It’s understood that Netflix are also looking for a teenage actor to portray Prince William, now 39, as a 13-year old boy.
‘Queen eats for comfort, Edward has AIDS, Camilla is depressed, Charles is in love with the Nanny’: How Earl Spencer’s scribbled notes from first meeting between Princess Diana and Martin Bashir became key evidence in Panorama probe
A jaw-dropping list of smears and lies allegedly peddled by Martin Bashir to clinch his sensational Princess Diana scoop was recorded by her brother – including the Queen ‘eating for comfort’ and Charles being in love with the family nanny.
Earl Spencer kept meticulous notes of a meeting held on September 19, 1995, when he introduced the BBC man to his sister at her Knightsbridge flat.
Earl Spencer’s records show that Bashir allegedly claimed that Diana’s private letters were being opened, her car tracked and phoned tapped with her bodyguard plotting against her, and close friends were betraying her.
Earl Spencer’s handwritten log of the meeting with Bashir at his sister’s flat in Knightsbridge also includes a note saying: ‘Camilla: depressed, but quiet for time being’.
In an execrable reference to Prince Edward, Spencer recorded Bashir as saying that the Queen’s youngest son was receiving treatment for Aids at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London. Even the Queen was mentioned. Spencer noted Bashir as saying she was ‘very ill with heart problems’ and that she was a ‘comfort eater’.
Earl Spencer (left) kept detailed notes when he met Martin Bashir (seen right holding a Bafta award for his Diana interview) when he met the BBC journalist with Diana at his sister’s flat
Bashir is accused of effectively grooming the vulnerable princess by playing to her worst fears with a series of false claims
From officials bugging Diana’s car to warnings her reputation would be ‘destroyed’: Earl Spencer’s handwritten scraps that could shred Bashir’s career
1: Diana’s ‘scum’ former bodyguard
Bashir’s opening gambit that three MI6 agents had told him Prince Charles’s private secretary Richard Aylard was ‘orchestrating’ things surrounding Diana. This involved Ken Wharfe, Diana’s former bodyguard, described as ‘scum’.
Diana was already paranoid her staff and friends were betraying her and, at the meeting, the broadcaster allegedly brandished bank statements purportedly showing her closest aides were selling her secrets.
2: Charles’ secretary ‘paid by Jonathan Dimbleby’
Aylard, it was claimed, had been paid by the broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby. A decision to reinvent the prince had been taken by aides two years earlier. A year later this allegedly included attacking both Diana and the Spencer family.
3: Charles ‘discussing ”end game”’
The notes, handed to Lord Dyson, include allegations MI6 had recorded Prince Charles and his private secretary planning the ‘end game’ – an extraordinary and false hint the heir to the throne was plotting to ‘destroy’ the Spencers and force them to flee to the US.
Charles Spencer’s detailed notes, from one to five. The manila file contains notes of every meeting he had with Bashir, the logs of phone calls the BBC man made along with the faxes, the letters and even the gushing thank you cards that the reporter sent him
4: Spencers’ reputation ‘would be destroyed’
Spencers’ reputation to be destroyed. In another remark recorded by Earl Spencer, Bashir claimed Prince Charles wanted Spencer’s then wife, Victoria, dead. Diana meanwhile would be forced to move to America — possibly with her brother.
5: Will Carling affair claim
His relates to the stories during 1995 of the close friendship between Diana and the married England rugby captain Will Carling. Spencer notes Bashir’s assertion that the newspaper stories had been ‘fed’ by Carling’s wife Julia.
9: Diana’s car ‘bugged’
This note describes Bashir’s alleged claim that Diana had been bugged by officials
The claim that Diana’s cars and phone lines being bugged and her post intercepted would have increased her worries she was being spied on.
Bashir told Lord Dyson he would not have made these claims at a first meeting, the Telegraph reported.
17: Camilla ‘depressed’
Camilla was allegedly described by Bashir as ‘depressed, but quiet for the time being’. The second line refers to William and Harry’s nanny, Tiggy Legge-Bourke
In the interview, Diana made her feelings clear on Camilla, famously saying, ‘There are three of us in this marriage.’
Mentioning her could have been an attempt by Bashir to prompt her to speak out.
‘Tiggy’ is a reference to Tiggy Legge-Bourke, William and Harry’s nanny who Charles was accused of having an affair with in claims that were subsequently dismissed.
17b: Philip’s ‘v unpleasant correspondence’
Earl Spencer recorded Bashir as describing ‘very unpleasant correspondence’ allegedly sent by Prince Philip to Diana and Sarah Ferguson
This claims Diana had received ‘v unpleasant correspondence’ from Philip and suggests he was annoyed at her ‘hero status’.
It also references Edwina Mountbatten, the wife of Earl Mountbatten of Burma, who was known to have had affairs.
19: Fergie’s business deals in the US
Another reference to Sarah Ferguson, this time describing her trips to the US to try and forge a business career
Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew divorced in 1996. This note refers to her numerous trips to the US to forge a business career.
It adds that Andrew still ‘look[ed] after her’ following their divorce by supporting her financially.
20: ‘Queen eats for comfort’
This note suggests the Queen was unwell, stating ‘Queen ill: heart’ and adds she ‘eats for comfort’.
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