Air date: November 16, 1997
The Princess and the Press
Produced by: Leonie Jameson
Senior Producer: Senior Producer
TELEVISION REPORTER: -that Diana, Princess of Wales, has been killed in
a car accident and that her partner, Dodi Fayed, has also been killed. They
were apparently being pursued by Paparazzi on two motorcycles.
EARL SPENCER: I would say that I always believed the press would kill
her in the end. It would appear that every proprietor and editor of every
publication that has paid for intrusive and exploitative photographs of her,
encouraging greedy and ruthless individuals to risk everything in pursuit of
Diana's image, has blood on his hands today.
NARRATOR: In London, the sudden death of Diana provoked not only tears
of grief, but anger at the aggressive British tabloid press that had pursued
her for 17 years.
MAN IN STREET: She's allowed a life. She's allowed a life-
PHOTOGRAPHER: Of course she is, but she always-
MAN IN STREET: And they took it!
PHOTOGRAPHER: -did what she wanted to do.
MAN IN STREET: They have taken it!
MAN IN STREET: They have taken it! They have taken her life.
TELEVISION COMMENTATOR: And now up the Mall towards the Buckingham
Palace. Flashbulbs going off absolutely like a constellation all around her.
What an amazing sight this is in the dark.
NARRATOR: It would soon emerge that the real story of Diana's death was
far more complicated than first reported. And so is the real story of her
relationship with the press.
JOURNALIST: Of course, she hated the appalling pursuit by the Paparazzi.
But on the other hand, a lot of time she did enjoy being photographed. She
enjoyed basking in being a star in the eyes of the world. It's very difficult
to blame the media for all her troubles.
NARRATOR: This is the story of a beautiful, desperate woman and the
relentless men who pursued every detail of her public and private life. It is
the story of the fatal embrace between "The Princess and the Press."
For centuries, the British royal family stood above the empire it ruled, remote
and magical figures. In the 19th century the political philosopher Walter
Bagehot warned that mystery was the key to the monarchy's magic and that
letting in daylight would be its ruination.
Sir PEREGRINE WORSTHORNE, Columnist, "The Sunday Telegraph": My most
vivid recollection, and I think this would be true of most people of my
generation, would be of the royal family standing on the balcony on V.E. Day
with Winston Churchill and taking the plaudits of the crowd. And that seemed to
embody the prestige and the way one thought about the monarchy as something out
of this world, almost God-like.
NARRATOR: But a little daylight was being let in on the royal magic, as
the newsreels reminded people that the King and Queen were also father and
mother, that they were a family like other families.
ANNOUNCER: [British Movietone News] And it's a family whose joys
and sorrows are much like yours and mine, I suspect. We will leave them to the
enjoyment of that home life into which we've had this brief and happy
NARRATOR: Of course, whenever newsreel cameras were allowed into the
palace, they found the royal family looking calm, good-natured and regal.
BBC ANNOUNCER:  It is with the greatest sorrow that we
make the following announcement. The King passed peacefully away in his sleep
earlier this morning.
TELEVISION COMMENTATOR: The moment of the Queen's crowning is come.
AUDIENCE: God save the Queen! God save the Queen! God save the Queen!
NARRATOR: It was Elizabeth herself who opted to break with tradition and
allow her coronation to be carried on live television. It was the first time
the ceremony had been seen by ordinary people. Newspapers sold more copies than
ever before, as they let their readers in on every detail of the happy event.
If the Queen was now closer to the people, she was still adored from afar.
Criticizing her role was the farthest thing from anybody's mind.
JOHN GRIGG, Historian: There was this atmosphere of almost cringing
acceptance on the part of everybody in positions of authority, whether
politicians, churchmen, people running the press, people at the top in
business. They all had this sort of attitude of uncritical acceptance of
everything that was done by the royal family. It was just accepted.
NARRATOR: The media could be relied upon to censor anything which would
embarrass Her Royal Highness.
KEN LENNOX, Photographer, "The Daily Mirror," 1986-1994: The Queen was
flying in to start her holiday. A gust of wind blew her dress up and in
reaction, I took a photograph and the Queen straightened her dress down, got to
the bottom of the steps, shook hands with the airport manager and glanced at me
and let me take a close-up photograph, got into the car, sat by the window and
waved as she left, which let me get a close-up photograph, and off she drove to
I drove back to the office and when I got to the office in Aberdeen, the
secretary said, "Sir Max Atken's secretary's been on the phone for you. She
will phone back." And within five minutes, she phoned up and she said, "Mr.
Lennox, I believe there was a bit of an incident at the airport." I said, "Yes,
there was." "Could you describe the incident?" I said, "The Queen's dress blew
up." And she said, "Well I take it Sir Max can trust you not to print any
photographs, that you will take them straight to Dyce Airport and inform me
which plane they're going to be coming down to London," which I did.
NARRATOR: Then came the '60s. The world was changing. Britain was
changing. Even the royal family was changing. Princess Margaret married Anthony
Armstrong Jones, a photographer. His friends were introduced to the palace.
They were artists, actors and dancers, even rock stars.
KEN LENNOX: Princess Margaret was the first to look racy. She was
interesting. She clubbed. She went out at night. She married a photographer.
And he dressed a bit differently from the other royals. He did things
differently. He still had a job in town. That was different. They use to go out
to the Caribbean, be seen on the beaches. They would fly back. They both had
tans. She would wear a short skirt.
NARRATOR: For the first time, a royal princess became a glamour girl.
[www.pbs.org: More on Princess Margaret's story] It was an irreverent
time. Magazines began to satirize the royal family and television programs
gently mocked the awe in which they were held.
DAVID FROST: ["That Was the Week That Was"] The royal barge is,
as it were, sinking. The sleek royal blue hull of the barge is sliding
gracefully, almost regally, beneath the waters. Perhaps the lip readers amongst
you will be able to make out what Prince Philip has just said to the captain of
the barge. And now the Queen, smiling radiantly, is swimming for her life. Her
Majesty's wearing a silk ensemble in canary yellow.
NARRATOR: The royal family was advised to try to open up more to the
people. A television documentary was made of the Windsors at home. It was a
Sir PEREGRINE WORSTHORNE, Columnist, "The Sunday Telegraph": This was
received generally, I think, in the media as a great new opening up of the- of
this secret institution to the public gaze. It was very much welcomed. It was
thought to open a new chapter and the monarchy had much to gain by seeming-
making itself seem human.
My own personal reaction, which I think was probably very much a minority view,
was this was a very dangerous precedent. Once you let the cameras into the
private lives of monarchy, the aura of mystery will be removed. They will
become much more seen as ordinary human beings. And this may make them
temporally popular, but as soon as there's any grounds to criticize them,
they'll become very unpopular. Once you've put your- opened yourself up to the
media, the media will not rest until they've taken over in their- in its
entirety. So this was a very dangerous thing for the monarchy to do, to
humanize this semi-divine institution. Nothing but trouble could spring from
it. And I think for once I've proved prescient.
NARRATOR: That same year, 1969, the press barons on London's Fleet
Street were jolted by a newcomer. The Australian publisher, Rupert Murdoch,
bought two down-market British newspapers, the News of the World
HARRY ARNOLD, Reporter, "The Sun," 1976-1990: Rupert, being colonial,
didn't want to kowtow to the royal family and still doesn't. And so I think his
instructions through the editor was, "Look, stop worshipping these people. Stop
treating them as gods. They are ordinary human beings and they will help sell
NARRATOR: From then on, Murdoch's influence would always be felt. When
there were rumors of trouble in Princess Margaret's marriage and whispers that
she was vacationing abroad with a boyfriend, Murdoch unleashed his
HARRY ARNOLD: I was sent out there with a photographer to try to see
them together. I took Roddy Llewellyn for a coffee and for the price of about
20 pence, he told me the whole story of himself and Margaret. He talked about
their magic island and how wonderful Princess Margaret was and, of course, that
was a sensation at that time.
NARRATOR: With a picture from the News of the World and the
juicy details from The Sun, the royal escapade became a front-page
KEN LENNOX, Photographer, "The Daily Mirror," 1986-1994: The rules were
changing. Royals didn't get divorced. That's one of the rules. Royals didn't
have their photographs taken off duty. That was another rule. They were both
traded in very quickly.
NARRATOR: Princess Margaret was told to leave her boyfriend, or else.
She did. She also ended her marriage. But dull times lay ahead for the
photographers and royal reporters.
RICHARD STOTT, Editor, "The Daily Mirror," 1991-1992: By the end of the
'70s, what had happened was that people had run out of interest. Charles was
getting balder, Princess Anne was married and there was no real royal- Prince
Andrew wasn't doing a lot. There was no real royal who was particularly
interesting. So come 1979 or so, you had a situation arise where the Queen was
going on a royal tour - I think to Scandinavia - and no one went at all. No
one. No television, no newspapers, not even the press association. And this was
seen as terrible because there's one thing worse than having yourself pried
into and that's not being bothered about at all.
HARRY ARNOLD, Reporter, "The Sun," 1976-1990: The royals at that time
had become fairly humdrum, fairly boring. But a romance with- between Charles
and a beauty was obviously something which was- which would overnight turn the
royal family into a fascinating subject.
KEN LENNOX, Photographer, "The Daily Mirror," 1986-1994: The pack in the
early days was seven or eight people, each one looking for a scoop on Prince
Charles. It was "mystery blonde" that hunting we were doing, unnamed girls
going into the paper with Charles, and it was very competitive. We would chase
up and down riverbanks or on foreign trips or even hiring models to jump into
the sea with him in Australia.
RONALD ALLISON, Queen's Press Secretary, 1973-1977: The whole of the
five years that I was the press secretary, there was the constant recurring
question, "Who is Prince Charles going to marry?" "Is he going to marry this
girl?" "He is going to marry this woman," "We know this is the one," and so on.
This came in, I'm sure, to one or other of my colleagues on a daily basis- on
and on and on.
NARRATOR: There were stories about a Miss Sheffield, until the News
of the World discovered that she had once lived with a boyfriend. She was
ruled out. And then there was Lady Jane Wellesley.
Sir NICHOLAS LLOYD, Editor, "News of the World," 1984-1985: Girlfriend
after girlfriend after girlfriend had been examined. They'd been found wanting
in one way or another or they didn't want to be part of the circus. We were
all aware he had to get married and he had to have an heir and it was very
difficult for him to find somebody who was sort of suitable. Now, this was a
kind of conspiracy on the part of the royal family and the press, in a way, I
think. The royal family were playing "happy families" and wanted to be seen as
a happy family, but also, given their position, he had to marry a girl who had
"no form," I think was the phrase we all used at the time.
NARRATOR: When the tabloid reporters, the "rat pack," as they called
themselves, followed Prince Charles, it was mainly in the hope of finding him
with "The Girl."
KEN LENNOX, Photographer, "The Daily Mirror," 1986-1994: We did find him
fishing and he had someone with him. And within seconds of us arriving, she got
up, turned her back, walked away from us in a straight line - while Charles
continued to fish as if nothing had happened - and stood behind a tree. Within
a few seconds, a hand appeared 'round the tree holding a compact with a mirror
and she held it 'round the tree to look to see where we were and used that to
walk away, keeping the tree between us and herself. We thought "My God, who is
this? This is different."
NARRATOR: The girl was identified by The Sun as 19-year-old
HARRY ARNOLD, Reporter, "The Sun," 1976-1990: After The Sun
broke the Diana Spencer story, the other tabloids started to try to catch up
and they all turned up- we all turned up at the kindergarten on the day that
she walked out and the sunlight was behind her and the famous picture of the
skirt- and I think from that moment a momentum started. And I think at that
stage, she was listening and learning and smiling a lot. And I think also at
that stage, she was crazy about Charles and I think she believed Charles loved
her. We called her "the perfect English rose" and she was living up to that
role, if you like.
JAMES WHITAKER, Royal Reporter, "The Daily Mirror": She was delightful.
She was immensely flirtatious. You know, she would do the bit- down and then
look up, like that. And she was charming. And she did definitely seduce the
media that were with her. I took a decision, and I think some of my colleagues
did, that she was a pretty suitable person to become the Princess of Wales.
ARTHUR EDWARDS, Photographer, "The Sun": She stopped me in the street
one day. She said, "Why all this harassment?" And I said, "Well, I think, you
know, because you're going to be the Prince's bride." And she said, "Why?" She
said, "Just because I don't have a past?" And I said, "It could be one of the
reasons." I said, "You're actually a very pretty girl." And she actually said-
and I said to her, you know, at the time, you know, "Well, don't forget us,"
you know, "with a knighthood when you get the job," and all that, just as fun.
And she laughed. [www.pbs.org: Read royal reporters' Diana stories]
NARRATOR: Although Diana Spencer was only 19, she seemed adept at
handling the media. She was discrete, but unfailingly polite.
1st REPORTER: Lady Diana?
2nd REPORTER: We thought there was going to be an announcement on his
32nd birthday, but there wasn't and he told reporters yesterday that it may be
coming soon. Have you any comment to make about that?
LADY DIANA: No.
1st REPORTER: Lady Di?
2nd REPORTER: No comment all around?
LADY DIANA: Mmm.
2nd REPORTER: How did you [unintelligible]
LADY DIANA: [unintelligible] okay?
HARRY ARNOLD, Reporter, "The Sun," 1976-1990: We had stories every day.
We had pictures every day about her. Newspapers were vying for the latest
photograph and it did become a rolling bandwagon that I think Charles found
impossible, in the end, to resist.
NARRATOR: In December, 1980, on a trip to India, Prince Charles talked
off the record to the press about Diana.
ARTHUR EDWARDS: He said, "I can't live with a woman for two years, like
you possibly could." He said, "I've got to get it right first time because if I
don't, you'll be the first to criticize me." And then we thought, "This is the
HARRY ARNOLD: He said, "Why do you think she's the one?" And at the
time, I think we all - all of us - totally misunderstood what he meant. I
thought he meant, "Why do you think she's the one that I've singled out to
marry?" It was many years before I realized, and I'm now quite sure of it, that
what he really meant was, "Why do you all think she's the one I should marry?"
And I think at that stage, his mind was not made up at all and he was asking a
genuine question. "Why this one? Why this girl? Why Diana?" To a certain
extent, it was a marriage made by the media. She was created, if you like, as a
bride for Charles.
NARRATOR: From the moment of their engagement, reporters and
photographers would follow the couple every step of the way to the altar.
INTERVIEWER: Can you find the words to sum up how you feel today about
PRINCE CHARLES: Difficult to find that sort of word, isn't it, really?
Just delighted and happy. I'm amazed that she's been brave enough to take me
INTERVIEWER: And, I suppose, in love.
LADY DIANA: Of course!
PRINCE CHARLES: Whatever "in love" means.
LADY DIANA: Yes.
INTERVIEWER: Well, it-
PRINCE CHARLES: You can put your own interpretation.
INTERVIEWER: -obviously means two very happy people.
PRINCE CHARLES: Yes.
LADY DIANA: Yes, it does, as you can see.
INTERVIEWER: Well, from us, congratulations.
LADY DIANA: Thank you very much.
PRINCE CHARLES: Thank you very much. You're very kind.
HARRY ARNOLD: In the weeks leading up to the royal marriage, there was
so much excitement, so much intense interest that if one discovered the
smallest fact, it became very important. If you found out the name of the
person who was going to make the wedding dress, it was a major front-page
I was the first to discover that Charles was going to take Diana on a cruise of
the Mediterranean in the royal yacht, Britannia, on their honeymoon and
that it would end in Egypt. That became our front-page story, "Queen of the
Nile." Just that one fact was enough to excite people.
CLERGYMAN: By giving and receiving of a ring and by joining of hands, I
pronounce that they be man and wife together. In the name of the Father and of
the Son and of the Holy Ghost, amen.
MICHAEL SHEA, Queen's Private Secretary, 1977-1987: There was a
sparkling princess and a fairy tale romance and it was something that
everybody, even the most cynical, found attractive and interesting and wanted
to watch and hear about. We tried to make every move that would help in that
direction. And we had thousands of journalists and photographers and camera
crews. Seven hundred million people around the world watched the wedding on
HARRY ARNOLD: I had an extremely good contact inside Buckingham Palace.
He actually witnessed, heard, the conversation between the parties on the
balcony. Andrew said to Charles, "Give her a kiss." But Charles, being a
naturally very hesitant sort of man, said, "I'm not getting into that caper."
Andrew repeated, "Oh, go on. Give her a kiss." And Charles half turned to the
Queen and said, "May I?" and the Queen said "Yes."
TELEVISION COMMENTATOR: And every single one was rewarded by this tender
NARRATOR: The London Times wrote, "It is fitting that Prince
Charles should enter matrimony when one considers how the royal family is
regarded as an exemplar of family life." Family life was on everyone's mind.
1st REPORTER: How are you enjoying married life?
PRINCESS DIANA: Highly recommended.
1st REPORTER: How do you like Balmoral as a place?
PRINCESS DIANA: Lovely. Beautiful.
2nd REPORTER: Have you cooked a breakfast yet?
TELEVISION ANCHOR: The Princess mimicked the constant request to hold
PRINCESS DIANA: Hold hands!
TELEVISION ANCHOR: -but they did, and hand in hand returned to the
privacy of the castle.
NARRATOR: The palace now expected the media frenzy to die down, but it
was not to be. Magazines and newspapers quickly discovered that a photograph of
Prince Charles and Diana would increase sales enormously. And they would soon
realize that they did not need Charles. Diana's face was enough.
Sales of Rupert Murdoch's tabloids featuring pictures and stories of the young
royals were soaring. It was that year, 1981, that he bought The Times of
London and The Sunday Times, becoming the most powerful press baron
Sir PEREGRINE WORSTHORNE, Columnist, "The Sunday Telegraph": I talked to
Rupert Murdoch at that period. He was passionately against fuddy-duddy Britain.
And as I say, the monarchy is part of fuddy-duddy Britain by- almost by
definition, and he felt it was holding us back and we'd become a much more
dynamic economy if we'd got rid of these kind of handicaps.
NARRATOR: Years later, Murdoch would put it this way:
RUPERT MURDOCH, Newspaper Owner: [1989 interview] I used to feel
that this was a society that was held down by a very stratified class system
and that the royal family was the pinnacle of that and that you would never
really open up this society to opportunity for everybody until you tackled this
class system and it was very hard to see how you could tackle it with the royal
NARRATOR: Murdoch installed Kelvin McKenzie as the editor of The
Sun and the Murdoch press lashed into the monarchy, dictating the tone of
palace press coverage.
HARRY ARNOLD, Reporter, "The Sun," 1976-1990: He would burst through the
swinging doors of the newsroom and shout at- of course, at me, "What's Prince
Charles doing at the moment?" I would say, "Just having his breakfast." And he
would never quite know if I was taking the mick or not, but he always wanted a
ARTHUR EDWARDS, Photographer, "The Sun": Diana was in the paper every
day. Kelvin McKenzie just was- I wouldn't say he was in love with her, but he
was in love with the papers she sold, I'm certain.
NARRATOR: The Sun dubbed Diana "Queen of Hearts" and reported on
every dress and every step and every gesture she made.
SIMON JENKINS, Editor, "The Times," 1990-1992: From the moment that
Diana Spencer arrived on the scene, you were going to get media attention
devoted to her unlike anything you'd seen in the world. No film star, no pope,
no queen was going to get the sort of attention that she was going to get. The
only question was, when would she crack? Michael Shea will tell you, as press
officer at the palace at the time, he pleaded, pleaded, pleaded with editors to
lay off the Princess of Wales.
MICHAEL SHEA, Queen's Private Secretary, 1977-1987: This was an appeal
to give it a break, to lay off, to try and get back to some reasonable
reporting, because there was- it wasn't as if there was a specific story, it
was just the interest in the Princess herself.
NARRATOR: Shea invited all the editors to Buckingham Palace to meet with
Lord DEEDES, Editor, "The Daily Telegraph," 1974-1986: And the Queen was
extremely reasonable, pointing out that it was rough on a girl if she can't
walk down the street to buy a bag of sweets without 30 or 40 photographers
chasing her all the time. And the then editor of the News of the World
retorted, "Why can't she send a footman for the sweets?"
NARRATOR: The editor of The Sun, Kelvin McKenzie, didn't even
attend the meeting.
ROY GREENSLADE, Editor, "The Daily Mirror," 1990-1991: I do recall what
Kelvin said on that famous occasion and it had something to do with needing to
see Rupert Murdoch and that being more important than meeting the Queen.
NARRATOR: Some tabloid editors, like Lloyd Turner of The Star,
INTERVIEWER: [television interview] Do you think that what you
heard today will change press attitudes? Will it change your attitude?
LLOYD TURNER: Now that I know that we've been worrying the Princess, now
that I know that she's concerned and that the Queen is concerned, then of
course all of us, I'm certain - all editors - will say, "Well, now, that
picture is going too far. That picture's been taken by somebody who could have
upset the Princess in getting it."
ANCHOR: The sound of second thoughts from Fleet Street.
NARRATOR: It would take less than two months for this repentant editor
to launch a sneak attack on the royal couple. He sent his photographers through
the undergrowth of the Bahamas to get a photograph of the pregnant Diana in a
bikini. The troops fromThe Star were followed by those from The
ROY GREENSLADE: The response to the famous holiday pictures was Kelvin
jumping in the air and I think the news editor opened his arms wide and said,
"Yes!" We did have the kind of discussion that you did: "Should- are we doing
the right thing?" And we all knew we were going to publish them, whether or not
we said we were doing the right thing or not.
NARRATOR: The Queen was dismayed. Murdoch's men didn't care.
ROY GREENSLADE: Kelvin would adopt at a conference in the morning a mock
and shocked look and say, "I'm afraid we've upset the palace. How can we do it
NARRATOR: The tabloids were on a roll. They were not about to leave the
young royal couple alone. In 1983 Prince Charles and Diana went with their baby
on their first official tour, to Australia. The scale of the coverage was
unprecedented. No one, it seemed, could get enough of the story.
KEN LENNOX, Photographer, "The Daily Mirror," 1986-1994: The rules were
changing. Instead of seven photographers being there, there were seventy.
Before, there was one from each paper and a couple of freelancers. Now they
were coming from France, Germany. Americans were coming to have a look at her.
The Japanese were turning up. For us it was a bit of a nightmare because we'd
had a fairly easy time up until then, but when you have 70 photographers all
squeezed into one spot, trying to climb up ladders, pushing and shoving with
each other- elbows were what you kept yourself safe by.
NARRATOR: Prince Charles wrote to a friend, "How can anyone, let alone a
21-year-old, be expected to come out of all this obsessed and crazed attention
unscathed?" As for Diana, she would later tell how she cried at night and how,
amidst all this adulation, she wished she were back home. But with a smile, she
persevered, knowing that the whole world was watching.
The palace, too, was watching.
RICHARD STOTT, Editor, "The Daily Mirror," 1991-1992: They couldn't have
bought the publicity that they were getting and they loved that. But the
problem with them was that they thought she was just going to be an adjunct to
the royal family, when in fact she was going to become it, and that was a
problem for them.
NARRATOR: In 1985 Charles and Diana visited the United States. They had
come to promote a British art exhibition, but the media was interested in
REPORTER: Are you going to dance with the Princess, Mr. Travolta?
JOHN TRAVOLTA: If she'd like me to.
REPORTER: What sort of dance would you choose, for preference?
JOHN TRAVOLTA: Oh, something of her choice.
PRINCE CHARLES: Both of us were proud and delighted to be patrons. The
idea, really, is to try and show the amazing way in which people in Britain
collected so much throughout Europe.
NARRATOR: The cameras, as usual, were focusing on Diana.
SIMON JENKINS, Editor, "The Times," 1990-1992: He was very irritated.
I'd be irritated if I was trying to make a serious point about alternative
medicine and people went on about the state of my shoes or my wife's dress.
PRINCE CHARLES: [press conference] Well, I'm not a glove puppet,
so I can't answer for that, I'm afraid. But I think- I think you enjoyed it,
didn't you? Be an idiot if she didn't enjoy dancing with John Travolta,
NARRATOR: Back home, Charles pursued his serious interests, like
delivering talks on modern architecture.
PRINCE CHARLES: But what is proposed seems to me like a monstrous
carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend.
NARRATOR: But privately, the frustrated Prince asked for advice.
Sir PEREGRINE WORSTHORNE, Columnist, "The Sunday Telegraph": We all gave
different advice, but mine was that he shouldn't be looking for more and better
publicity, but he should be looking for less bad publicity and keep his head
much more below the parapet.
NARRATOR: This advice was ignored. The palace decided to do more, but to
try to do it on its own terms.
MICHAEL SHEA, Queen's Private Secretary, 1977-1987: There was a period
where there were too many revealing, in-depth interviews going on. I take
certain blame for some of the earlier affairs because I was constantly trying
to open the door, roll back the carpet a bit. Too much was given away about
The problem about that is that once you've revealed private details about
private lives, just as politicians find increasingly, then later on, a few
weeks later, a few months later, if the media come and say, "Now, tell us more
about this particular aspect of your private life," and you say, "No, I'm not
going to say that," then how do you answer the question, "Well, you've already
NARRATOR: The young royals mounted a television special based on a
popular game show. It was not well received.
ANDREW MORTON, Royal Biographer: This whole scene of the royal family
behaving in a way that was totally alien to the way you normally saw them and
in the- kind of the tension of the time, when you're actually looking at
Princess Anne, you could actually see in her body language she was saying to
the world, "I want to be somewhere else."
The Duke and Duchess of York were having a great old time, behaving in
precisely the same way as the royal family do behave behind closed doors - this
upper-class, bread-roll-throwing family - but they were doing it in public. And
so we were getting a real vivid glimpse of what they- how they really behave
when the gates are open.
NARRATOR: The gates were open. Nothing was deemed private. The press was
KEN LENNOX, Photographer, "The Daily Mirror," 1986-1994: Holidays are
supposed to be off-limits. We're not supposed to be there, but we are there.
And when we would all turn up, Michael or whoever would say, "Look, chaps, this
is a private holiday. You can't do this." And we would say, "Michael, can we
have one photograph and we will all go away?" "I will put it to them," he would
say, "but I must have promises from each one of you that you'll all be on the
next flight out." Michael or whoever would come back and say, "Right, chaps.
Eleven o'clock tomorrow. Fifteen minutes only. We will just do a
straightforward picture. No funny hats." And we would say, "Oh, we need the
funny hats." And we would try to argue up the picture. If the children were
there, "We need the children." There would be a bartering job. It was an Arab
PRESS COORDINATOR: The Prince and Princess of Wales will then come to
the location where the press will be assembled. They will ski towards you, stop
in front of you for the photo opportunity and then ski away. We would hope that
nobody would follow them skiing.
KEN LENNOX: If the picture was rotten, we wouldn't go away. Michael or
whoever would say, "You promised to go away." "Well, we didn't get a picture
worth publishing." "But it's in all the papers this morning." "But it's not on
the front page, it's on page 13," we would say. And it would go on like this.
They would come and pose for pictures and they would get rid of 90 percent of
us at that time, but then the real paparazzi would stay on.
They wouldn't even come to the first one because they couldn't sell that one
because everyone else would have it. But they could sell the one three days
later. And that's where they would make their money.
NARRATOR: The paparazzi would go looking for the unguarded moments. The
reporters were on the lookout for the untold stories.
HARRY ARNOLD, Reporter, "The Sun," 1976-1990: We would go on tours and
we would discover that Charles and Diana had separate bedrooms. There had been
a row the night before over something or other. These things came back to us,
as they tend to do. And they were pooh-poohed by the palace. They were denied.
We were called troublemakers and scandal-mongers.
NARRATOR: Throughout the 1980s, the stories leaped out. They told of a
rift, of accidents and royal rows.
RICHARD STOTT, Editor, "The Daily Mirror," 1991-1992: Well, the first
instinct of the palace press office at that time - and, indeed, it hasn't
really changed very much over the years - was to deny it. Quite often, before
you'd asked the question, I would have thought that you were likely to have got
a denial. A lot of this was deliberate evasion. A lot of it was ignorance. I
suspect that they just did not know and that the reporters knew a great deal
NARRATOR: They knew and told of specific incidents. They were hearing
the name of another woman: Camilla Parker Bowles. They were all tales pointing
to a loveless marriage. One night, at the Festival of Remembrance, the Princess
of Wales arrived late, after the Queen, a remarkable breach of royal
JAMES WHITAKER, Royal Reporter, "The Daily Mirror": One person I spoke
to, Diana's sister, Lady Sara McCorquodale, and had said, "What happened last
night? What's it's all about?" And she said to me that there were problems
there for her and that there was a great fear that she was becoming anorexic.
It was hotly denied by Buckingham Palace. They thought it was a disgraceful bit
NARRATOR: As rumors about Diana's problems spread, one reporter seemed
to know more than others.
ANDREW MORTON, Royal Biographer: I had a long conversation with someone
who knew Diana very well. We just chatted about Diana's life and the real
despair and despondency she felt and how some of her friends really felt that
she was on the verge of committing suicide. And they mentioned how she had
suffered from this eating disorder, bulimia, how she was in a bad way mentally,
how she was really finding it hard to cope, how she would run out of the room
when Prince Charles arrived in the room, how she would- just couldn't really
get to grips with being an international superstar on the one hand - in the
public eye - and being treated in such a poor way by both the royal family and
particularly by Prince Charles.
And of course, the thing which really riled her most of all was that she was
living a lie in terms of her marriage, that Camilla Parker Bowles was
effectively the mistress of Highgrove and the mistress of Prince Charles. And
that was driving her to despair. She's a jealous woman, she's an obsessive
woman, and it was breaking her up.
NARRATOR: The palace chastised the press for harming the marriage.
MICHAEL SHEA, Queen's Private Secretary, 1977-1987: I don't believe
anybody, if they have problems, won't realize that that problem wouldn't be
made a hundred times, a thousand times worse by having the eyes and the ears of
the world poking into every corner of that unhappiness.
SIMON JENKINS, Editor, "The Times," 1990-1992: At the time, we kept
saying, "Hold on a minute. You've sold us this great love story. You really
can't have it both ways. You invited massive, blanket, intrusive publicity into
this relationship and now, if it's going wrong, you're telling us to lay off."
Well, as a human being I'd say yes, but I have to say on behalf of the press,
"Pull the other one."
NARRATOR: The stories followed the royal couple everywhere.
SIMON JENKINS: So you had there at that time a real tussle between the
insiders who were genuinely worried about a relationship going wrong, and a
press who, let's face it, had the biggest story they'd ever got. It was the
love story gone wrong and, as we all know, the only thing that's a better story
than a love story is a love story gone wrong.
TELEVISION REPORTER: Rumors of marriage problems put their relationship
under intense public scrutiny. All the press attention was focused on the
couple's attitude to each other, as the gloomy winter evening closed in.
NARRATOR: In India in 1992, the Princess sat alone in front of the Taj
Mahal, symbol of conjugal love. The Prince was busy elsewhere. Soon the whole
world would know the story.
TELEVISION ANNOUNCER: From ITN, News at 10.
REPORTER: Diana: Her True Story will be serialized in The
Sunday Times this weekend. It claims it had the support of her family and
closest friends in the research. The book says Diana found herself trapped in a
loveless marriage and at one time, in 1986, attempted suicide to bring
attention to her plight.
NARRATOR: The book stunned not only the public, but even the people who
had been reporting some of the stories.
HARRY ARNOLD, Reporter, "The Sun," 1976-1990: I was naturally reluctant
at first to believe some of these things because they were quite extraordinary.
Looking back now and, in fact, even at the time, after a few weeks research, I
could see they were a lot more correct than they were incorrect. And I think
the book, essentially, told the truth.
NARRATOR: The stories made the front pages of every paper in Britain,
the tabloids and the respectable broadsheets alike.
RICHARD STOTT, Editor, "The Daily Mirror," 1991-1992: The Morton book
was cataclysmic, in terms of- for the royal family because it confirmed
virtually 10 years of reporting of the kind that James Whitaker, Harry Arnold
and others, and Morton himself, had been doing. So that was very important and
it vindicated what had been going on in terms of the tabloid papers.
MAX HASTINGS, Editor, "The Daily Telegraph," 1986-1995: If I look back
on 10 years as the editor of The Daily Telegraph, then I suppose the
moment at which I blush most is to remember the Morton book because when it
came out, I was inclined to believe two things which, actually, responsible
journalists shouldn't let themselves believe. One is, "It's not true," and the
second is, "Well, if it is, they shouldn't say so."
NARRATOR: At the time, Hastings launched a fierce attack on the
MAX HASTINGS: What Andrew thinks he's doing publishing this virago of
rubbish- let's look at the evidence. Now, we're dealing here with a book by
somebody called Andrew Morton whose only credentials is that he was a royal
reporter. Now, I'm bound to say that royal reporters- if you can't get a job as
a pianist in a brothel, you become a royal reporter. Any so-called friend of
the royal family who's stupid enough to talk to somebody like Andrew Morton for
a book, I would have questioned whether their evidence is likely to be worth
NARRATOR: Morton was hounded by the media. His sources were questioned.
We now know that his main source was Diana herself, but he couldn't say so at
TELEVISION NEWS ANCHOR: The man fighting his way through the cameras on
the way into our studio there is Andrew Morton.
ANDREW MORTON: It would have helped me enormously from day one if I'd
said Diana knew about this book, she'd given the go-ahead for all her friends.
It would have saved me an awful lot of hassle from journalists, from television
and all the rest of it. I could have just said, "Look, she was very helpful and
she was very useful." And instead, I had to bat on, basically, with one arm
tied behind my back. [www.pbs.org: The Morton book controversy]
[on talk show] I didn't interview the Princess of Wales for this book.
INTERVIEWER: Have you ever spoken to the Princess of Wales at all?
ANDREW MORTON: I've spoken to her at the usual press receptions, but not
in connection with this book.
NARRATOR: The book was first serialized by Murdoch's Sunday
Times. The paper was harshly criticized.
Sir PEREGRINE WORSTHORNE, Columnist, "The Sunday Telegraph": My
resentment sprang from the fact that we are damaging something which is very
precious. And to the older generation - still a hell of a lot of people over 50
in this country - that, I think, was their reaction, a feeling of sadness,
profound sadness. And it's so unnecessary. There was no- apart from the
circulation requirements of The Sunday Times, which I suppose became
paramount in the mind of Mr. Rupert Murdoch- it obviously sells papers, but it
damages the national interest and there's no doubt about this. And so I was
angry and wrote a vicious article, which I would do again.
NARRATOR: The palace urged the Press Complaints Commission, headed by
Lord McGregor, to issue a statement condemning the coverage of the Waleses'
Lord McGREGOR, Chairman, Press Complaints Commission, 1991-1994: I had
heard a number of rumors that the Princess had been in regular touch with
editors about her own situation and her own relationships. Now, I said that if
this were the case, I was not going to issue the statement.
1st REPORTER: Buckingham Palace officials have denied once again today
that the Princess of Wales cooperated in any way with the book.
2nd REPORTER: The palace denied she'd cooperated in any way with the
3rd REPORTER: Buckingham Palace repeated today that the Princess did not
cooperate in any way whatsoever with Andrew Morton's book.
Lord McGREGOR: I was given what I now am certain was an honorable and
direct denial that there had been any communication between Princess Diana and
NARRATOR: Finally, Lord McGregor issued a statement condemning the
Lord McGREGOR: The most recent intrusive and speculative treatment by
sections of the press, and indeed by broadcasters, of the marriage of the
Prince and Princess of Wales is an odious exhibition of journalists dabbling
their fingers in the stuff of other people's souls.
NARRATOR: The Chairman of Rupert Murdoch's newspapers called Lord
McGregor to tell him that their sources were solid.
ANDREW KNIGHT, Chairman, Murdoch Newspapers, 1990-1994: Well, Lord
McGregor said, "I don't believe you, Mr. Knight. I find this very difficult to
believe." And so I said to him, "Well, look, Lord McGregor, if you don't
believe me, just look at tomorrow's newspapers because in tomorrow's newspapers
will be reported an event which has not yet happened. Namely, later today the
Princess of Wales is going to visit Carolyn Bartholomew, who's one of the
sources for the book. And that story will be reported with photographs in
tomorrow's tabloid newspapers.
KEN LENNOX, Photographer, "The Daily Mirror," 1986-1994: I got a phone
call at home in Chelsea inviting me to go to Carolyn Bartholomew's home and
this person said, "Do you know where Carolyn lives?" and I said, "Yes, I do."
And the person repeated the address and said, "I'm sorry I couldn't get to you
earlier. I didn't have your phone number." They said, "But get 'round there.
She's leaving at 9:00 o'clock." Now, for someone to know that someone is
leaving at a certain time, that is perfect inside knowledge.
NARRATOR: At 9:00 o'clock sharp, the Princess of Wales was on her
KEN LENNOX: Almost on the button at 9:00 o'clock, Carolyn, her husband
and her baby all appeared in the doorway. Diana kissed Carolyn's husband,
kissed the baby and kissed Carolyn. I phoned the office and said, "Diana has
just vindicated everything Andrew Morton has said in the book."
Lord McGREGOR: When I got into the office, I spread all the day's papers
out and there was no doubt whatsoever, from the nature and similarity of the
stories that they were publishing, that there was a common source.
NARRATOR: Lord McGregor concluded that Diana had invaded her own
MAX HASTINGS, Editor, "The Daily Telegraph," 1986-1995: I just found it
so difficult to come to terms with the fact that anybody, whether a Princess or
anyone else, could be so foolish as to engage a tabloid journalist like Morton
in indiscretions on that scale because it was a self-destruct process. It was
an extraordinary act in which it did seem amazing, first of all, that she
should want to talk at all, but secondly that she should engage the Murdoch
press in this process. I mean it was- it was a degree of- it suggested a degree
of will for self-destructiveness that- that one took months, yes, to
come to terms with.
NARRATOR: During the summer of 1992, as the royals made their rounds,
Diana's story was on everyone's mind.
Sir PEREGRINE WORSTHORNE, Columnist, "The Sunday Telegraph": One felt
absolutely let down by Princess Diana. For a royal figure to put their own
desire to get their marriage case understood by the public against their
husband- this was an irresponsible thing for a royal princess to do. By the old
rules of the game, if you marry into the monarchy, you take the rough with the
smooth and you are sort of morally obliged to play by the rules, which she
Lord DEEDES, Editor, "The Daily Telegraph," 1974-1986: Human beings in
crisis are very often unaccountable. I don't think I can even attempt to
explain this to you. The Princess of Wales, perhaps unfairly, held an
extraordinary view about the whole royal entourage. I think she almost felt she
was a prisoner of war. There's a very important, as it were, apparatus that
surrounds the Queen, surrounds a monarch. This I think she found impenetrable
and became almost phobic about it. That accounts for some of the bitterness
which spilled into this book. [www.pbs.org: Read the full Deedes
ANDREW MORTON: Diana's position was very ambivalent. Inside the House of
Windsor she was just a- she was a member of the royal family. She was not the
superstar. She was not seen as the superstar. Prince Charles was the one upon
which everyone directed their attention. And yet to the mass media, to the
public, Diana was the superstar. And for her there was this incredible
dichotomy going on all the time. She was lauded and lionized outside Kensington
Palace. She was treated as a second-class, third-class citizen inside
Buckingham Palace and that's where the problem lay.
NARRATOR: As the royal family tried to show a united front on the
occasion of the Queen Mother's 92nd birthday, Princess Diana knew that there
was more trouble ahead. In 1989, an intimate telephone conversation between
Diana and a friend, James Gilbey, had been taped by a ham radio operator. On
the tape she talked about her alienation. Gilbey comforted her and called her
"Squidgy." The tape was sold toThe Sun.
PRINCESS DIANA: [audiotape] It's so difficult, so complicated.
He makes my life real, real torture, I've decided.
NARRATOR: Whether Rupert Murdoch was afraid of precipitating the
introduction of a privacy law which would limit press coverage of the monarchy
or whether he had developed a new respect for that institution is not clear,
but he sat on the tape for 18 months.
STUART HIGGINS, Editor, "The Sun": I don't think he believed that we had
100 percent proved that it was genuine. Nobody had ever had any hints of this
before. You could understand that people didn't believe it.
ANDREW KNIGHT, Chairman, Murdoch Newspapers, 1990-1994: The royal
institution was important and it would have rocked it. It just didn't seem
right or proper to carry it. I won't say that there weren't journalists and
there weren't editors who would like to have carried them.
STUART HIGGINS: There was a temptation for us, and it was something that
was discussed over a pint, "What would happen if we leaked it to somebody else
and then it got out that way, then we picked it up?"
NARRATOR: Leaked or not, the tape was acquired by The National
Enquirer in the United States. The next day it was in the London
STUART HIGGINS: I was editing on that Sunday. I can remember the day was
an absolutely amazing, almost surreal day, in hindsight, and we just went for
broke and published every word of the tape that we had.
REPORTER: Buckingham Palace issued a statement today saying they weren't
taking the tape seriously.
NARRATOR: The palace took no action against the paper for publishing an
illegally recorded phone call. They must have known that whatever chance they
had for a privacy law curbing press intrusion into their private lives was now
lost. Diana's collaboration with Morton had ended it.
SIMON JENKINS, Editor, "The Times," 1990-1992: The royal family have
always been very chary of praying in aid any law that is there to protect them.
I think I have to say they are very lily-livered about it. If the royal family
aren't going to protest, it's quite difficult to exert discipline within the
industry on its recalcitrant members. Those tapes were completely tasteless.
They were totally intrusive. They should never have been published.
NARRATOR: The Sun put the tape on a phone line, inviting readers
to decide for themselves whether the conversation was genuine or not. Soon
afterwards the official separation was announced.
1st REPORTER: Official at last, the Prince and Princess are to separate.
The palace insists-
2nd REPORTER: The Prince and Princess of Wales are to separate, but they
have no plans to divorce. The announcement came after months of speculation
about the state of the royal marriage. The statement from Buckingham Palace-
NARRATOR: Prince Charles's supporters in the media had rallied to
PENNY JUNOR, Royal Biographer: I felt, just looking at it, that he had
been very badly maligned and unfairly so. I had just put down the telephone
from an interview with Greater London Radio or something. My phone rang and it
was a friend of the Prince's and he said, "What you are saying on the radio is
absolutely right. Please keep it up. Write some more."
I then rang Buckingham Palace and I said, "Look," you know, "would you like me
to do some more?" And they said, "Write something, if you like. Yes, please.
But the Prince is not terribly keen. He has warned everybody off. He says
´Don't,' but actually, secretly, we would be quite grateful if- if
something positive were to- you know, if you were to carry on saying what
NARRATOR: Diana would wage her own fight against the palace.
KEN LENNOX, Photographer, "The Daily Mirror," 1986-1994: We all knew
that courtiers had put the boot into Diana, saying she was a madwoman, et
cetera, et cetera. And Diana was starting to use it to get back. And at that
time she's a very unhappy girl who was surrounded by people she was very
suspicious of and who were putting out stories at dinner parties saying Diana
PRINCESS DIANA: I'm supposed to be dragged off any minute with men in
white coats, so if it's all right with you, I thought I might postpone my
nervous breakdown to a more appropriate moment.
NARRATOR: Prince Charles's friends mounted a general counteroffensive.
They were all members of the British aristocracy, not usually in touch with the
STUART HIGGINS, Editor, "The Sun": That was the kind of circle of people
that were involved- not directly. They weren't ringing up The Sun and
saying, "That's complete nonsense. You've got it wrong," but those were the
people that were working behind the scenes to protect, quite rightly, the
Prince of Wales's position and also for him to maintain some dignity and
integrity in the face of what was regarded as a terrible, terrible betrayal by
NARRATOR: In Andrew Morton's book, the Princess had blamed her husband's
relationship with Mrs. Camilla Parker Bowles for the breakdown of the royal
marriage. Attention now turned towards this shadowy figure, who had met the
deputy editor of The Sun in the early 1980s, when he worked as a royal
STUART HIGGINS: There were lots of occasions when I would ring her up
and say, "Is this true? I don't want you to say anything. I won't quote you."
And she would say, "No, it's complete cobblers." Now, I never thought of
ringing her and saying, "Are you having a passionate, raging, torrid affair
with the next King?" because I knew what the answer would be. I think she used
me and, for all I know, other journalists and other people who spoke to her to
know what was going on.
NARRATOR: Soon there would be no doubts about the affair. New tapes
surfaced, this time of an intimate conversation between Mrs. Parker Bowles and
Prince Charles. The full transcript of the tapes was published in The Sunday
CAMILLA PARKER BOWLES: [audiotape] I can't bear Sunday nights
PRINCE CHARLES: Oh, God.
CAMILLA PARKER BOWLES: It's like that program, Start the Week. I
can't start the week without you.
KEN LENNOX, Photographer, "The Daily Mirror," 1986-1994: I mean, this
chap had walked in with the tape and it was unbelievable what we were listening
to. It was Charles and it was Camilla. You didn't need to be an expert to
listen to it.
NARRATOR: There were parts that even the tabloid editor, Richard Stott,
found too embarrassing to publish.
KEN LENNOX: The material was sensational. There was part of it he said
he wouldn't ever publish and that's the bit that everyone knows about, "I would
like to be a Tampax. I'd like to be a box of Tampax." And I think in Italy he's
still known as "Il Tampanini." And Charles knew that every time- Richard Stott
said, at the time, every time Prince Charles walks past a building site, he
would get a facefull from the blokes up the scaffolding.
NARRATOR: The tapes were a huge blow to the Prince's prestige and
questions were being raised about his fitness to be king.
STUART HIGGINS: Prince Charles was maintaining, or his friends were
maintaining, "I will be King. This is my destiny." And I can remember splashing
on, "I'll do my duty," "I'll never quit," all that sort of thing. There was
this constant feeding to The Sun, and to other newspapers, as well, but
to The Sun because I believe they used us to reach a very, very wide
NARRATOR: In 1994, in an effort to enhance his image and mark the 25th
anniversary of his investiture as Prince of Wales, a book and a documentary
JONATHAN DIMBLEBY, Royal Biographer: I knew what I thought I was doing,
and I think I did it, which was to write a life of the Prince of Wales, in so
far as I could, discovering as much as I could about that life, about the
character of the man and, of course, in the forefront of my mind, about the
qualities of the individual who was destined to become King of England. That's
what I was doing.
ANNOUNCER: ["Charles: The Private Man, the Public Role"] This is
the story of the Prince of Wales today, what he does, what he thinks, what he
believes, what he feels.
MAX HASTINGS, Editor, "The Daily Telegraph," 1986-1995: When I was first
told about the Dimbleby project and asked what I thought about it by one or two
of the palace people, I said, "This is absolute madness. There's only one thing
anybody's going to want to hear about and that's the marriage and the
consequences will be disastrous." And I remember one of the Prince of Wales's
closest aides saying, "But we've got to do something." And I said, "But this is
the fundamental, huge mistake at the heart of all your thinking, that this is a
sort of public war which can be waged by public relations means."
NARRATOR: The documentary tried to focus on the Prince's good works and
his various interests.
JONATHAN DIMBLEBY: ["Charles: The Private Man, the Public Role"]
The selection of San Ysidro for the privilege of a princely visit was not quite
random. The village is run by a cooperative that specializes in organic
agriculture and the production of herbal remedies or complementary medicine,
all of which are close to the Prince's heart. For much of the British media,
the issue is still Diana. Her absence remains the focus of their attention. The
Prince knows this and is resigned to the fact that what is for him a routine
tour is presented by them as part of a program of rehabilitation.
PRINCE CHARLES: ["Charles: The Private Man, the Public Role"] I
can just see headlines floating in my mind, "Prince plows lonely furrow" or
something like that, do you know what I mean? Or "´I'll plow my own
furrow,' says Charles." That's the usual thing.
NARRATOR: In one part of the interview, which now cannot be rebroadcast,
the Prince admitted that he had indeed committed adultery. That, of course,
became the next day's headlines.
ROBERT HARDMAN, Royal Reporter, "The Daily Telegraph": It turned 1994
from what was supposed to be a sort of period of restoration, if you like,
focusing on the Prince's 25 years as Prince of Wales- it turned it into a sort
of, you know, private life fest. And I don't think anybody remembers any of the
other one hour and 59 minutes of the documentary about good deeds and the Duchy
of Cornwall and that sort of thing. They only remember it for one episode.
NARRATOR: Papers like The Daily Telegraph were not the only ones
to object. Ironically, the tabloid reporters were offended.
JAMES WHITAKER, Royal Reporter, "The Daily Mirror": I have always blamed
Jonathan Dimbleby. I think that there should have been much more serious
warning of the Prince of Wales. I think there was a certain duty of him to say,
"Actually, Sir, I don't think this is a very good idea to publicly admit
adultery with another woman."
JONATHAN DIMBLEBY: One of our leading tabloid editors said to my certain
knowledge to a senior official at St. James's, "Well, you've shot our fox now."
What he meant was, "We can't go on running the speculative stories and making
all these assertions because the fact has been acknowledged. End of story." Of
course, it was naive to suppose that the fox had indeed been shot. They could
go on shooting it again and again and again.
NARRATOR: In 1993, the Princess of Wales, under strain from constant
media attention, had decided to curtail her public appearances and lead a more
private life. She made her announcement at a charity event.
PRINCESS DIANA: When I started my public life 12 years ago, I understood
the media might be interested in what I did. Their attention would inevitably
focus on both our private and public lives. But I was not aware of how
overwhelming that attention would become.
NARRATOR: She asked the press to now allow her to live a private life.
But if she really believed that she was to be allowed to lead a life away from
the camera lenses, she was gravely mistaken. As an off-duty princess, pictures
would now command even higher prices. Freelance photographers - the paparazzi -
began to hound Diana's every step. They tailed her 24 hours a day.
GLENN HARVEY, Freelance Photographer: Sometimes we're commissioned by
magazines or newspapers. They have a tip-off that something's happening and
instead of them sending their own staff photographer, they would commission a
freelancer to go and do it.
NARRATOR: They wouldn't lose her for more than a few minutes.
GLENN HARVEY: I just lost her in the crowd. But all of a sudden, I saw
this flash of blond hair flying left to right towards this other photographer
on my right and she was about an inch away from his nose. She just screamed at
the top of her voice, "You make my life hell! You make my life hell!" And then
she sort of went off with her hand on her head and realized what she'd done. It
was the first "loon attack" that we'd seen.
NARRATOR: This would now be their game plan: Have Diana go loony and
lose her cool. The pictures could make the front page and fetch thousands of
dollars. After a while it wasn't hard to do. But her relationship with the
press was not one-sided.
MAX HASTINGS, Editor, "The Daily Telegraph," 1986-1995: Yes, in my
experience, the Princess of Wales did seek to enlist the support of the media
for the interests she was pursuing, including, yes, sometimes, frankly, her
quarrels with the royal family and with her former husband. And yes, she did
seek out quite a lot of members of the media in order to advance her own cause
REPORTER: The cameramen in line for the happy family pictures that the
Princess herself wanted to be seen in newspapers around the world.
NARRATOR: When she wanted to be seen, she made sure she was seen- at her
REPORTER: In this story of media manipulation, the Princess appears to
have the most to answer for.
MAX HASTINGS: Now, I don't think any of us should believe that the fact
that she had a schizophrenic attitude towards stardom and towards being
photographed excuses what was done by the paparazzi. But it does make the issue
more complicated and I do not think one can simply say, "Here was somebody who
deserved to be left alone." I think she would have withered on the vine if
she'd been left alone. I think she would have been a very unhappy woman if
she'd been left alone.
NARRATOR: She wasn't left alone. She was in the papers every day, while
the Fleet Street press, divided, covered the warring couple. The Daily
Mail was her paper. The Telegraph andThe Express were his.
Every detail was fair game- the bills of Diana's health and beauty care, the
sums she spent on suits and underwear. Diana, the palace said, was secretive,
obsessive and hysterical. If she was, her side claimed, he drove her to it.
There would be accusations and counter-accusations. Advice was asked and given
by everyone to everyone. [www.pbs.org: How Charles and Diana used the
MAX HASTINGS: The Princess of Wales had a whole procession of us in for
lunch at one time or another to allegedly ask our advice. And I remember being
asked out to lunch by whatever it was, about the end of October, 1995, and
saying, as I always say on these occasions, "Ma'am, I should just let the other
side make the mistakes. Just stick with the principles. Say nothing. Say
nothing. You still have tremendous public support, but you're not going to
serve your interests by saying a lot publicly." Now, of course, nothing is more
unflattering than finding your advice not taken, but I've never had my advice
so resoundingly not taken as realizing as soon as the Panorama program
with the Princes of Wales appeared that at the very moment that we'd been
having that conversation, at that lunch, when she'd been nodding away, they
were setting up the cameras upstairs.
NARRATOR: On November 20th, 1995, the Princess was interviewed on
primetime television. She was asked about a rumored love affair.
INTERVIEWER: ["Panorama"] Were you unfaithful?
PRINCESS OF WALES: Yes. I adored him. Yes. I was in love with him.
STUART HIGGINS, Editor, "The Sun": People were absolutely stunned. I
don't think they could have believed that she would ever have admitted an
affair with James Hewitt.
INTERVIEWER: ["Panorama"] Do you think Mrs. Parker Bowles was a
factor in the breakdown of your marriage?
PRINCESS DIANA: Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was
a bit crowded.
STUART HIGGINS: I was editing and the paper was changing by the second
with every- the next 15 words, there was a new splash, a new page, and we were
going back into the paper, taking more and more pages to get every word in. As
a journalist, it was fantastic, absolutely brilliant, a great, great story and
fantastic- you know, just incredible copy and great for sales and circulation.
Just an incredible thing to do. Personally, for her, it was a bad decision and
I think damaged her. It reopened all the old wounds. It opened new wounds.
ANDREW MORTON: The key to understanding Diana, and also, actually, the
Spencer family, really, is that they're a very impetuous bunch and once they've
actually decided to do something, they'll go for it. And Diana is not a great
person for long-term thinking. She doesn't actually work out the consequences
of what she's doing and what she's saying. So there's no great long-term
strategy behind this on her part. It was all very much, "I'm in this awful
position. Things can only get better."
NARRATOR: But things were not getting better. Now that she had admitted
to one love affair, the hunt for other lovers was on. Then the inevitable
announcement, a divorce.
1st REPORTER: She did have it on?
2nd REPORTER: She did have the ring on?
1st REPORTER: Are you certain, Paul?
2nd REPORTER: Did she have the ring on? She had the ring on?
1st REPORTER: Are you certain?
3rd REPORTER: She looked beautiful.
4th REPORTER: [unintelligible] but not calculated or
3rd REPORTER: But I noticed she was wearing a lot of make-up.
1st REPORTER: I thought she looked pretty tense, but then that's not too
surprising. I think the most remarkable thing-
MAX HASTINGS, Editor, "The Daily Telegraph," 1986-1995: Look, I don't
mean for a moment that she could ever have felt other than loathing for the
paparazzi who harassed her and chased her 'round the streets and said appalling
things to her. But if you just take the mainstream tabloid newspapers, some of
the time she seemed to adore featuring in them. She was very willing to traffic
with reporters and editors from some of these papers. And it ended up with the
worst of all possible worlds, in which she was in a muddle about whether she
wanted to be photographed and whether she wanted to be in the papers. Some
newspapers, yes, I think were genuinely themselves in a muddle about whether
she really wanted to be left alone or not.
NARRATOR: There were times she wanted the press with her: in Angola, as
she campaigned against land mines.
PRINCESS DIANA: I'm not a political figure, nor do I want to be one. But
I come with- with my heart and I want to bring awareness to people in distress.
The fact is, I'm a humanitarian figure and always have been and always will
[to aid worker] Onwards. Onwards. Which way? We'll follow.
NARRATOR: There were other times she claimed that she wanted to be left
alone, and yet she knew the photographers were there and she did not object. It
was Camilla Parker Bowles's 50th birthday and Diana might have been sending the
world a message: "I am here and I am beautiful."
JAMES WHITAKER, Royal Reporter, "The Daily Mirror": She looked
wonderful. What woman in the world wouldn't be happy to see a photo of herself
if you looked as good as she does?
NARRATOR: That day she chatted amicably with the photographers.
JAMES WHITAKER: I think there are times when she would love to switch
off completely. I think she runs a problem on this, saying one minute, "I do
want you and I want to use the media to get my message across." I think when
you go down that line, you're going to run into a problem if you suddenly say,
"Right, I'm now switching off. Go away. Come back when I want you."
NARRATOR: On the last day of her life, she did not want the media with
her. As she went into the Ritz Hotel, she left them outside waiting, and then
she tried to flee.
TELEVISION COMMENTATOR: The Princess of Wales making her journey back to
her London home. The royal standard there draped over the coffin.
NARRATOR: It was a funeral like no other, as England mourned its beloved
Princess. Would they have loved her so if they had not come to know her? Could
they have known her if she hadn't told the press of her love, hurt and
TELEVISION COMMENTATOR: [reading Queen's statement] No one who
knew Diana will ever forget her.
NARRATOR: She had played a dangerous game and she had lost, and yet
whatever the press did or did not do to her, they made her forever the "Queen
of Hearts," just as she wanted to be.
ANNOUNCER: FRONTLINE continues this report on line with historians'
views on the monarchy, modern culture and the media, the full 1995
Panorama interview with Diana, a chronology of the tabloids' coverage of
her life, the Andrew Morton book controversy and much more. Explore FRONTLINE
on-line at www.pbs.org.
PREVIEW VOICEOVER DURING
THE SPLIT SCREEN CREDITS:
Next time on FRONTLINE: When you were 6, what was the worst thing you did?
1st EXPERT: He went in there to get tricycles.
ANNOUNCER: What if everyone gave up on you right then and there?
2nd EXPERT: A psychopath in the making.
ANNOUNCER: Would you be who you are today? FRONTLINE examines the
haunting case of a 6-year-old child who brutally beat an infant-
3rd EXPERT: A natural-born killer.
ANNOUNCER: -and how our judicial system handles "Little Criminals" next
time on FRONTLINE.
THE PRINCESS AND THE PRESS
James A. Smith
Channel Four Television
News International Syndication
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Now it's time for your letters. Our program, "Dreams of Tibet," drew praise,
but also protests about its perceived anti-Chinese slant and other complaints
STEVEN SALZBURG: [Pacific Palisades, CA] Your program made it
seem that any interest that the Hollywood community might have in the fate of
Tibet was a fad or somehow trivial. I'll take the trivial over the near
criminal silence of the media over the last 50 years.
LINDA RABBEN: [Amnesty International Volunteer] As a human
rights activist, I was troubled by the weary, almost dismissive tone of
tonight's program on Tibet. Prominent people like Richard Gere make a positive
contribution by using their fame to call the world's attention to human rights
abuses in places like Tibet. Their efforts should be acknowledged as
worthwhile, not put down.
CHARLES KNIGHT: [Cambridge, MA] Your FRONTLINE report comes very
close to the propaganda you criticize in its largely uncritical romance with
the religious clerics of Tibet. The film comes across as though you expect the
Dalai Lama to found a pluralist democracy in Tibet. Don't bet on it.
ANNOUNCER: Tell us what you thought about tonight's program by fax at
(617) 254-0243, by e-mail - FRONTLINE@PBS.ORG - or by the U.S. mail, DEAR
FRONTLINE, 125 Western Ave., Boston, Massachusetts, 02134.
Copyright / 1997 WGBH Educational Foundation