diana's 1995 bbc interview
This is the full transcript of Princess Diana's one-hour television interview with Martin Bashir, a journalist with the BBC current affairs program



q:  Your Royal Highness, how prepared were you for the pressures that came with marrying into the Royal Family?

diana:  At the age of 19, you always think you're prepared for everything, and you think you have the knowledge of what's coming ahead. But although I was daunted at the prospect at the time, I felt I had the support of my husband-to-be.

q:  What were the expectations that you had for married life?

a:  I think like any marriage, specially when you've had divorced parents like myself, you'd want to try even harder to make it work and you don't want to fall back into a pattern that you've seen happen in your own family.

I desperately wanted it to work, I desperately loved my husband and I wanted to share everything together, and I thought that we were a very good team.

q:  How aware were you of the significance of what had happened to you? After all, you'd become Princess of Wales, ultimately with a view to becoming Queen.

picture of diana during interview a:  I wasn't daunted, and am not daunted by the responsibilities that that role creates. It was a challenge, it is a challenge.

As for becoming Queen, it's, it was never at the forefront of my mind when I married my husband: it was a long way off that thought.

The most daunting aspect was the media attention, because my husband and I, we were told when we got engaged that the media would go quietly, and it didn't; and then when we were married they said it would go quietly and it didn't; and then it started to focus very much on me, and I seemed to be on the front of a newspaper every single day, which is an isolating experience, and the higher the media put you, place you, is the bigger the drop.

And I was very aware of that.

q:  How did you handle the transition from being Lady Diana Spencer to the most photographed, the most talked-about, woman in the world?

a:  Well, it took a long time to understand why people were so interested in me, but I assumed it was because my husband had done a lot of wonderful work leading up to our marriage and our relationship.

But then I, during the years you see yourself as a good product that sits on a shelf and sells well, and people make a lot of money out of you.

q:  It's been suggested in some newspapers that you were left largely to cope with your new status on your own. Do you feel that was your experience?

a:  Yes I do, on reflection. But then here was a situation which hadn't ever happened before in history, in the sense that the media were everywhere, and here was a fairy story that everybody wanted to work.

And so it was, it was isolating, but it was also a situation where you couldn't indulge in feeling sorry for yourself: you had to either sink or swim. And you had to learn that very fast.

q:  And what did you do?

a:  I swam. We went to Alice Springs, to Australia, and we went and did a walkabout, and I said to my husband: ´What do I do now?' And he said, ´Go over to the other side and speak to them.' I said, ´I can't, I just can't.' He said, ´Well, you've got to do it.' And he went off and did his bit, and I went off and did my bit. It practically finished me off there and then, and I suddenly realised - I went back to our hotel room and realised the impact that, you know, I had to sort myself out.

We had a six-week tour - four weeks in Australia and two weeks in New Zealand - and by the end, when we flew back from New Zealand, I was a different person. I realised the sense of duty, the level of intensity of interest, and the demanding role I now found myself in.

q:  Were you overwhelmed by the pressure from people initially?

a:  Yes, I was very daunted because as far as I was concerned I was a fat, chubby, 20-year-old, 21-year-old, and I couldn't understand the level of interest.

q:  At this early stage, would you say that you were happily married?

a:  Very much so. But, the pressure on us both as a couple with the media was phenomenal, and misunderstood by a great many people.

We'd be going round Australia, for instance, and all you could hear was, oh, she's on the other side. Now, if you're a man, like my husband a proud man, you mind about that if you hear it every day for four weeks. And you feel low about it, instead of feeling happy and sharing it.

q:  When you say ´she's on the other side', what do you mean?

a:  Well, they weren't on the right side to wave at me or to touch me.

q:  So they were expressing a preference even then for you rather than your husband?

a:  Yes - which I felt very uncomfortable with, and I felt it was unfair, because I wanted to share.

q:  But were you flattered by the media attention particularly?

a:  No, not particularly, because with the media attention came a lot of jealousy, a great deal of complicated situations arose because of that.

q:  At this early stage in your marriage, what role did you see for yourself as Princess of Wales? Did you have an idea of the role that you might like to fulfill?

a:  No, I was very confused by which area I should go into. Then I found myself being more and more involved with people who were rejected by society - with, I'd say, drug addicts, alcoholism, battered this, battered that - and I found an affinity there.

And I respected very much the honesty I found on that level with people I met, because in hospices, for instance, when people are dying they're much more open and more vulnerable, and much more real than other people. And I appreciated that.

q:  Had the Palace given any thought to the role that you might have as Princess of Wales?

a:  No, no one sat me down with a piece of paper and said: ´This is what is expected of you.' But there again, I'm lucky enough in the fact that I have found my role, and I'm very conscious of it, and I love being with people.

q:  So you very much created the role that you would pursue for yourself really? That was what you did?

a:  I think so. I remember when I used to sit on hospital beds and hold people's hands, people used to be sort of shocked because they said they'd never seen this before, and to me it was quite a normal thing to do.

And when I saw the reassurance that an action like that gave, I did it everywhere, and will always do that.

q:  It wasn't long after the wedding before you became pregnant. What was your reaction when you learnt that the child was a boy?

a:  Enormous relief. I felt the whole country was in labour with me. Enormous relief.

But I had actually known William was going to be a boy, because the scan had shown it, so it caused no surprise.

q:  Had you always wanted to have a family?

a:  Yes, I came from a family where there were four of us, so we had enormous fun there.

And then William and Harry arrived - fortunately two boys, it would have been a little tricky if it had been two girls - but that in itself brings the responsibilities of bringing them up, William's future being as it is, and Harry like a form of a back-up in that aspect.

q:  How did the rest of the Royal Family react when they learnt that the child that you were to have was going to be a boy?

a:  Well, everybody was thrilled to bits. It had been quite a difficult pregnancy - I hadn't been very well throughout it - so by the time William arrived it was a great relief because it was all peaceful again, and I was well for a time.

Then I was unwell with post-natal depression, which no one ever discusses, post-natal depression, you have to read about it afterwards, and that in itself was a bit of a difficult time. You'd wake up in the morning feeling you didn't want to get out of bed, you felt misunderstood, and just very, very low in yourself.

q:  Was this completely out of character for you?

a:  Yes, very much so. I never had had a depression in my life.

But then when I analysed it I could see that the changes I'd made in the last year had all caught up with me, and my body had said: ´We want a rest.' q:  So what treatment did you actually receive?

a:  I received a great deal of treatment, but I knew in myself that actually what I needed was space and time to adapt to all the different roles that had come my way. I knew I could do it, but I needed people to be patient and give me the space to do it.

q:  When you say all of the different roles that had come your way, what do you mean?

a:  Well, it was a very short space of time: in the space of a year my whole life had changed, turned upside down, and it had its wonderful moments, but it also had challenging moments. And I could see where the rough edges needed to be smoothed.

q:  What was the family's reaction to your post-natal depression?

a:  Well maybe I was the first person ever to be in this family who ever had a depression or was ever openly tearful. And obviously that was daunting, because if you've never seen it before how do you support it?

q:  What effect did the depression have on your marriage?

a:  Well, it gave everybody a wonderful new label - Diana's unstable and Diana's mentally unbalanced. And unfortunately that seems to have stuck on and off over the years.

q:  Are you saying that that label stuck within your marriage?

a:  I think people used it and it stuck, yes.

q:  According to press reports, it was suggested that it was around this time things became so difficult that you actually tried to injure yourself.

a:  Mmm. When no one listens to you, or you feel no one's listening to you, all sorts of things start to happen.

For instance you have so much pain inside yourself that you try and hurt yourself on the outside because you want help, but it's the wrong help you're asking for. People see it as crying wolf or attention-seeking, and they think because you're in the media all the time you've got enough attention, inverted commas.

But I was actually crying out because I wanted to get better in order to go forward and continue my duty and my role as wife, mother, Princess of Wales.

So yes, I did inflict upon myself. I didn't like myself, I was ashamed because I couldn't cope with the pressures.

q:  What did you actually do?

a:  Well, I just hurt my arms and my legs; and I work in environments now where I see women doing similar things and I'm able to understand completely where they're coming from.

q:  What was your husband's reaction to this, when you began to injure yourself in this way?

a:  Well, I didn't actually always do it in front of him. But obviously anyone who loves someone would be very concerned about it.

q:  Did he understand what was behind the physical act of hurting yourself, do you think?

a:  No, but then not many people would have taken the time to see that.

q:  Were you able to admit that you were in fact unwell, or did you feel compelled simply to carry on performing as the Princess of Wales?

a:  I felt compelled to perform. Well, when I say perform, I was compelled to go out and do my engagements and not let people down and support them and love them.

And in a way by being out in public they supported me, although they weren't aware just how much healing they were giving me, and it carried me through.

q:  But did you feel that you had to maintain the public image of a successful Princess of Wales?

a:  Yes I did, yes I did.

q:  The depression was resolved, as you say, but it was subsequently reported that you suffered bulimia. Is that true?

a:  Yes, I did. I had bulimia for a number of years. And that's like a secret disease.

You inflict it upon yourself because your self-esteem is at a low ebb, and you don't think you're worthy or valuable. You fill your stomach up four or five times a day - some do it more - and it gives you a feeling of comfort.

It's like having a pair of arms around you, but it's temporarily, temporary. Then you're disgusted at the bloatedness of your stomach, and then you bring it all up again.

And it's a repetitive pattern which is very destructive to yourself.

q:  How often would you do that on a daily basis?

a:  Depends on the pressures going on. If I'd been on what I call an awayday, or I'd been up part of the country all day, I'd come home feeling pretty empty, because my engagements at that time would be to do with people dying, people very sick, people's marriage problems, and I'd come home and it would be very difficult to know how to comfort myself having been comforting lots of other people, so it would be a regular pattern to jump into the fridge.

It was a symptom of what was going on in my marriage.

I was crying out for help, but giving the wrong signals, and people were using my bulimia as a coat on a hanger: they decided that was the problem - Diana was unstable.

q:  Instead of looking behind the symptom at the cause.

a:  Uh,uh.

q:  What was the cause?

a:  The cause was the situation where my husband and I had to keep everything together because we didn't want to disappoint the public, and yet obviously there was a lot of anxiety going on within our four walls.

q:  Do you mean between the two of you?

a:  Uh,uh.

q:  And so you subjected yourself to this phase of bingeing and vomiting?

a:  You could say the word subjected, but it was my escape mechanism, and it worked, for me, at that time.

q:  Did you seek help from any other members of the Royal Family?

a:  No. You, you have to know that when you have bulimia you're very ashamed of yourself and you hate yourself, so - and people think you're wasting food - so you don't discuss it with people.

And the thing about bulimia is your weight always stays the same, whereas with anorexia you visibly shrink. So you can pretend the whole way through. There's no proof.

q:  When you say people would think you were wasting food, did anybody suggest that to you?

a:  Oh yes, a number of times.

q:  What was said?

a:  Well, it was just, ´I suppose you're going to waste that food later on?' And that was pressure in itself. And of course I would, because it was my release valve.

q:  How long did this bulimia go on for?

a:  A long time, a long time. But I'm free of it now.

q:  Two years, three years?

a:  Mmm. A little bit more than that.

q:  According to reports in the national press, it was at around this time that you began to experience difficulties in your marriage, in your relationship to the Prince of Wales. Is that true?

a:  Well, we were a newly-married couple, so obviously we had those pressures too, and we had the media, who were completely fascinated by everything we did.

And it was difficult to share that load, because I was the one who was always pitched out front, whether it was my clothes, what I said, what my hair was doing, everything - which was a pretty dull subject, actually, and it's been exhausted over the years - when actually what we wanted to be, what we wanted supported was our work, and as a team.

q:  What effect did the press interest in you have on your marriage?

a:  It made it very difficult, because for a situation where it was a couple working in the same job - we got out the same car, we shook the same hand, my husband did the speeches, I did the handshaking - so basically we were a married couple doing the same job, which is very difficult for anyone, and more so if you ve got all the attention on you.

We struggled a bit with it, it was very difficult; and then my husband decided that we do separate engagements, which was a bit sad for me, because I quite liked the company.

But, there again, I didn't have the choice.

q:  So it wasn't at your request that you did that on your own?

a:  Not at all, no.

q:  The biography of the Prince of Wales written by Jonathan Dimbleby, which as you know was published last year, suggested that you and your husband had very different outlooks, very different interests. Would you agree with that?

a:  No. I think we had a great deal of interest - we both liked people, both liked country life, both loved children, work in the cancer field, work in hospices.

But I was portrayed in the media at that time, if I remember rightly, as someone, because I hadn't passed any O-levels and taken any A-levels, I was stupid.

And I made the grave mistake once of saying to a child I was thick as a plank, in order to ease the child's nervousness, which it did. But that headline went all round the world, and I rather regret saying it.

q:  The Prince of Wales, in the biography, is described as a great thinker, a man with a tremendous range of interests. What did he think of your interests?

a:  Well, I don't think I was allowed to have any. I think that I've always been the 18-year-old girl he got engaged to, so I don't think I've been given any credit for growth. And, my goodness, I've had to grow.

q:  Explain what you mean when you say that.

a:  Well, er...

q:  When you say, when you say you were never given any credit, what do you mean?

a:  Well anything good I ever did nobody ever said a thing, never said, ´well done', or ´was it OK?' But if I tripped up, which invariably I did, because I was new at the game, a ton of bricks came down on me.

q:  How did you cope with that?

a:  Well obviously there were lots of tears, and one could dive into the bulimia, into escape.

q:  Some people would find that difficult to believe, that you were left so much to cope on your own, and that the description you give suggests that your relationship with your husband was not very good even at that early stage.

a:  Well, we had unique pressures put upon us, and we both tried our hardest to cover them up, but obviously it wasn't to be.

q:  Around 1986, again according to the biography written by Jonathan Dimbleby about your husband, he says that your husband renewed his relationship with Mrs Camilla Parker-Bowles. Were you aware of that?

a:  Yes I was, but I wasn't in a position to do anything about it.

q:  What evidence did you have that their relationship was continuing even though you were married?

a:  Oh, a woman's instinct is a very good one.

q:  Is that all?

a:  Well, I had, obviously I had knowledge of it.

q:  From staff?

a:  Well, from people who minded and cared about our marriage, yes.

q:  What effect did that have on you?

a:  Pretty devastating. Rampant bulimia, if you can have rampant bulimia, and just a feeling of being no good at anything and being useless and hopeless and failed in every direction.

q:  And with a husband who was having a relationship with somebody else?

a:  With a husband who loved someone else, yes.

q:  You really thought that?

a:  Uh,uh. I didn't think that, I knew it.

q:  How did you know it?

a:  By the change of behavioural pattern in my husband; for all sorts of reasons that a woman's instinct produces; you just know.

It was already difficult, but it became increasingly difficult.

q:  In the practical sense, how did it become difficult?

a:  Well, people were - when I say people I mean friends, on my husband's side - were indicating that I was again unstable, sick, and should be put in a home of some sort in order to get better. I was almost an embarrassment.

q:  Do you think he really thought that?

a:  Well, there's no better way to dismantle a personality than to isolate it.

q:  So you were isolated?

a:  Uh,uh, very much so.

q:  Do you think Mrs Parker-Bowles was a factor in the breakdown of your marriage?

a:  Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.

q:  You're effectively living separate lives, yet in public there's this appearance of this happily married royal couple. How was this regarded by the Royal Family?

a:  I think everybody was very anxious because they could see there were complications but didn't want to interfere, but were there, made it known that they were there if required.

q:  Do you think it was accepted that one could live effectively two lives - one in private and one in public?

a:  No, because again the media was very interested about our set-up, inverted commas; when we went abroad we had separate apartments, albeit we were on the same floor, so of course that was leaked, and that caused complications.

But Charles and I had our duty to perform, and that was paramount.

q:  So in a sense you coped with this, these two lives, because of your duty?

a:  Uh,uh. And we were a very good team in public; albeit what was going on in private, we were a good team.

q:  Some people would find that difficult to reconcile.

a:  Well, that's their problem. I know what it felt like.

q:  The Queen described 1992 as her ´annus horribilis', and it was in that year that Andrew Morton's book about you was published. Did you ever meet Andrew Morton or personally help him with the book?

a:  I never met him, no.

q:  Did you ever personally assist him with the writing of his book?

a:  A lot of people saw the distress that my life was in, and they felt it was a supportive thing to help in the way that they did.

q:  Did you allow your friends, your close friends, to speak to Andrew Morton?

a:  Yes, I did. Yes, I did.

q:  Why?

a:  I was at the end of my tether. I was desperate.

I think I was so fed up with being seen as someone who was a basket-case, because I am a very strong person and I know that causes complications in the system that I live in.

q:  How would a book change that?

a:  I don't know. Maybe people have a better understanding, maybe there's a lot of women out there who suffer on the same level but in a different environment, who are unable to stand up for themselves because their self-esteem is cut into two. I don't know.




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