diana's 1995 bbc interview

q:  What effect do you think the book had on your husband and the Royal Family?

a:  I think they were shocked and horrified and very disappointed.

q:  Can you understand why?

a:  I think Mr Dimbleby's book was a shock to a lot of people and disappointment as well.

q:  What effect did Andrew Morton's book have on your relationship with the Prince of Wales?

a:  Well, what had been hidden - or rather what we thought had been hidden - then became out in the open and was spoken about on a daily basis, and the pressure was for us to sort ourselves out in some way.

Were we going to stay together or were we going to separate? And the word separation and divorce kept coming up in the media on a daily basis.

q:  What happened after the book was published?

a:  Well, we struggled along. We did our engagements together. And in our private life it was obviously turbulent.

q:  Did things come to a head?

a:  Yes, slowly, yes. My husband and I, we discussed it very calmly.

We could see what the public were requiring. They wanted clarity of a situation that was obviously becoming intolerable.

q:  So what happened?

a:  So we got the lawyers together, we discussed separation - obviously there were a lot of people to discuss it with: the Prime Minister, Her Majesty - and then it moved itself, so to speak.

q:  By the December of that year, as you say, you'd agreed to a legal separation. What were your feelings at the time?

a:  Deep, deep, profound sadness. Because we had struggled to keep it going, but obviously we'd both run out of steam.

And in a way I suppose it could have been a relief for us both that we'd finally made our minds up. But my husband asked for the separation and I supported it.

q:  It was not your idea?

a:  No. Not at all. I come from a divorced background, and I didn't want to go into that one again.

q:  What happened next?

a:  We, I asked my husband if we could put the announcement out before the children came back from school for Christmas holidays because they were protected in the school they were at.

And he did that, and it came out on December 9th. I was on an engagement up north.

I heard it on the radio, and it was just very, very sad. Really sad. The fairy tale had come to an end, and most importantly our marriage had taken a turn, different turn.

q:  Did you tell your children that you were going to separate?

a:  Yes. I went down a week beforehand, and explained to them what was happening.

And they took it as children do - lots of questions - and I hoped I was able to reassure them. But, who knows?

q:  What effect do you think the announcement had on them?

a:  I think the announcement had a huge effect on me and Charles, really, and the children were very much out of it, in the sense that they were tucked away at school.

q:  Once the separation had occurred, moving to 1993, what happened during that period?

a:  People's agendas changed overnight. I was now separated wife of the Prince of Wales, I was a problem, I was a liability (seen as), and how are we going to deal with her? This hasn't happened before.

q:  Who was asking those questions?

a:  People around me, people in this environment, and ...

q:  The royal household?

a:  People in my environment, yes, yes.

q:  And they began to see you as a problem?

a:  Yes, very much so, uh,uh.

q:  How did that show itself?

a:  By visits abroad being blocked, by things that had come naturally my way being stopped, letters going, that got lost, and various things.

q:  So despite the fact that your interest was always to continue with your duties, you found that your duties were being held from you?

a:  Yes. Everything changed after we separated, and life became very difficult then for me.

q:  Who was behind that change?

a:  Well, my husband's side were very busy stopping me.

q:  What was your reaction when news broke of allegedly a telephone conversation between you and Mr James Gilbey having been recorded?

a:  I felt very protective about James because he'd been a very good friend to me and was a very good friend to me, and I couldn't bear that his life was going to be messed up because he had the connection with me.

And that worried me. I'm very protective about my friends.

q:  Did you have the alleged telephone conversation?

a:  Yes we did, absolutely we did. Yup, we did.

q:  On that tape, Mr Gilbey expresses his affection for you. Was that transcript accurate?

a:  Yes. I mean he is a very affectionate person.

But the implications of that conversation were that we'd had an adulterous relationship, which was not true.

q:  Have you any idea how that conversation came to be published in the national press?

a:  No, but it was done to harm me in a serious manner, and that was the first time I'd experienced what it was like to be outside the net, so to speak, and not be in the family.

q:  What do you think the purpose was behind it?

a:  It was to make the public change their attitude towards me.

It was, you know, if we are going to divorce, my husband would hold more cards than I would - it was very much a poker game, chess game.

q:  There were also a series of telephone calls which allegedly were made by you to a Mr Oliver Hoare. Did you make what were described as nuisance phone calls?

a:  I was reputed to have made 300 telephone calls in a very short space of time which, bearing in mind my lifestyle at that time, made me a very busy lady.

No, I didn't, I didn't.

But that again was a huge move to discredit me, and very nearly did me in, the injustice of it, because I did my own homework on that subject, and consequently found out that a young boy had done most of them.

But I read that I'd done them all. Mr Hoare told me that his lines were being tapped by the local police station. He said, you know, don't ring. So I didn't, but somebody clearly did.

q:  Had you made any of those calls at all?

a:  I used to, yes, I had rung up, yes.

q:  Once, twice, three times?

a:  I don't know. Over a period of six to nine months, a few times, but certainly not in an obsessive manner, no.

q:  Do you really believe that a campaign was being waged against you?

a:  Yes I did, absolutely, yeah.

q:  Why?

a:  I was the separated wife of the Prince of Wales, I was a problem, fullstop. Never happened before, what do we do with her?

q:  Can't we pack her off to somewhere quietly rather than campaign against her?

a:  She won't go quietly, that's the problem. I'll fight to the end, because I believe that I have a role to fulfil, and I've got two children to bring up.

q:  By the end of 1993 you had suffered persistent difficulties with the press - these phone conversations were made public - and you decided to withdraw from public life. Why did you do that?

a:  The pressure was intolerable then, and my job, my work was being affected.

I wanted to give 110% to my work, and I could only give 50. I was constantly tired, exhausted, because the pressure was just, it was so cruel.

So I thought the only way to do it was to stand up and make a speech and extract myself before I started disappointing and not carrying out my work.

It was my decision to make that speech because I owed it to the public to say that, you know, ´thank you. I'm disappearing for a bit, but I'll come back.' q:  It wasn't very long before you did come back, of course.

a:  Well, I don't know. I mean, I did a lot of work, well, underground, without any media attention, so I never really stopped doing it.

I just didn't do every day out and about, I just couldn't do it.

You know, the campaign at that point was being successful, but it did surprise the people who were causing the grief - it did surprise them when I took myself out of the game.

They hadn't expected that. And I'm a great believer that you should always confuse the enemy.

q:  Who was the enemy?

a:  Well, the enemy was my husband's department, because I always got more publicity, my work was more, was discussed much more than him.

And, you know, from that point of view I understand it. But I was doing good things, and I wanted to good things. I was never going to hurt anyone, I was never going to let anyone down.

q:  But you really believe that it was out of jealousy that they wanted to undermine you?

a:  I think it was out of fear, because here was a strong woman doing her bit, and where was she getting her strength from to continue?

q:  What was your reaction to your husband's disclosure to Jonathan Dimbleby that he had in fact committed adultery?

a:  Well, I was totally unaware of the content of the book, and actually saw it on the news that night that it had come out, and my first concern was to the children, because they were able to understand what was coming out, and I wanted to protect them.

But I was pretty devastated myself. But then I admired the honesty, because it takes a lot to do that.

q:  In what sense?

a:  Well, to be honest about a relationship with someone else, in his position - that's quite something.

q:  How did you handle this with the children?

a:  I went to the school and put it to William, particularly, that if you find someone you love in life you must hang on to it and look after it, and if you were lucky enough to find someone who loved you then one must protect it.

William asked me what had been going on, and could I answer his questions, which I did.

He said, was that the reason why our marriage had broken up?

And I said, well, there were three of us in this marriage, and the pressure of the media was another factor, so the two together were very difficult.

But although I still loved Papa I couldn't live under the same roof as him, and likewise with him.

q:  What effect do you think it had on Prince William?

a:  Well, he's a child that's a deep thinker, and we don't know for a few years how it's gone in. But I put it in gently, without resentment or any anger.

q:  Looking back now, do you feel at all responsible for the difficulties in your marriage?

a:  Mmm. I take full responsibility, I take some responsibility that our marriage went the way it did. I'll take half of it, but I won't take any more than that, because it takes two to get in this situation.

q:  But you do bear some of the responsibility?

a:  Absolutely, we both made mistakes.

q:  Another book that was published recently concerned a Mr James Hewitt, in which he claimed to have had a very close relationship with you, from about 1989 I think. What was the nature of your relationship?

a:  He was a great friend of mine at a very difficult, yet another difficult time, and he was always there to support me, and I was absolutely devastated when this book appeared, because I trusted him, and because, again, I worried about the reaction on my children.

And, yes, there was factual evidence in the book, but a lot of it was, comes from another world, didn't equate to what happened.

q:  What do you mean?

a:  Well, there was a lot of fantasy in that book, and it was very distressing for me that a friend of mine, who I had trusted, made money out of me. I really minded about that.

And he'd rung me up 10 days before it arrived in the bookshops to tell me that there was nothing to worry about, and I believed him, stupidly.

And then when it did arrive the first thing I did was rush down to talk to my children. And William produced a box of chocolates and said, ´Mummy, I think you've been hurt. These are to make you smile again.' So...

q:  Did your relationship go beyond a close friendship?

a:  Yes it did, yes.

q:  Were you unfaithful?

a:  Yes, I adored him. Yes, I was in love with him. But I was very let down.

q:  How would you describe your life now? You do live very much on your own, don't you?

a:  Yes, I don't mind that actually. You know, people think that at the end of the day a man is the only answer. Actually, a fulfilling job is better for me. (LAUGHTER) q:  What do you mean by that?

a:  Well, I mean any gentleman that's been past my door, we've instantly been put together in the media and all hell's broken loose, so that's been very tough on the male friends I've had, and obviously from my point of view.

q:  Does that mean that you feel that for the rest of your life you'll have to be on your own?

a:  No, I'm not really on my own. I've got wonderful friends, I've got my boys, I've got my work.

It's just by living at Kensington Palace obviously it is a little bit isolating, but, you know, maybe we all feel like that.

q:  How do you feel about the way the press behaves towards you now?

a:  I still to this day find the interest daunting and phenomenal, because I actually don't like being the centre of attention.

When I have my public duties, I understand that when I get out the car I'm being photographed, but actually it's now when I go out of my door, my front door, I'm being photographed.

I never know where a lens is going to be.

A normal day would be followed by four cars; a normal day would come back to my car and find six freelance photographers jumping around me.

Some people would say, Well, if you had a policeman it would make it easier. It doesn't at all.

They've decided that I'm still a product, after 15, 16 years, that sells well, and they all shout at me, telling me that: ´Oh, come on, Di, look up. If you give us a picture I can get my children to a better school.' And, you know, you can laugh it off. But you get that the whole time. It's quite difficult.

q:  Some people would say that in the early years of your marriage you were partly responsible for encouraging the press interest - you danced with people like Wayne Sleep, you seemed to enjoy it, you had a very good and warm relationship.

Do you feel any responsibility for the way the press have behaved towards you?

a:  I've never encouraged the media. There was a relationship which worked before, but now I can't tolerate it because it's become abusive and it's harassment.

But I don't want to be seen to be indulging in self-pity. I'm not.

I understand they have a job to do. You could equate it to a soap opera really. It goes on and on and on, and the story never changes.

And each time one enjoys oneself - albeit it's in a different situation you have to pay for it, because people criticise, which comes with the patch, as I said previously.

But I am a free spirit - unfortunately for some.

q:  But here at Kensington Palace, are you isolated?

a:  Well I am by the nature of my situation, yes, but I don't feel sorry for myself in any way.

I've got my work that I choose to do, and I've got my boys, and I've got lots of opportunities coming up in the next year - visits abroad: I'm about to go to Argentina, which I'm very happy with, and hope very much to continue the good relationship that's now been adopted between the two countries. I hope I can be of help there.

q:  What role do you see for yourself in the future?

a:  I'd like to be an ambassador for this country. I'd like to represent this country abroad.

As I have all this media interest, let's not just sit in this country and be battered by it. Let's take them, these people, out to represent this country and the good qualities of it abroad.

When I go abroad we've got 60 to 90 photographers, just from this country, coming with me, so let's use it in a productive way, to help this country.

q:  You say you feel that your future is as some form of ambassador. At whose behest is that? On what grounds do you feel that you have the right to think of yourself as an ambassador.

a:  I've been in a privileged position for 15 years. I've got tremendous knowledge about people and how to communicate. I've learnt that, I've got it, and I want to use it.

And when I look at people in public life, I'm not a political animal but I think the biggest disease this world suffers from in this day and age is the disease of people feeling unloved, and I know that I can give love for a minute, for half an hour, for a day, for a month, but I can give - I'm very happy to do that and I want to do that.

q:  Do you think that the British people are happy with you in your role?

a:  I think the British people need someone in public life to give affection, to make them feel important, to support them, to give them light in their dark tunnels.

I see it as a possibly unique role, and yes, I've had difficulties, as everybody has witnessed over the years, but let's now use the knowledge I've gathered to help other people in distress.

q:  Do you think you can?

a:  I know I can, I know I can, yes.

q:  Up until you came into this family, the monarchy seemed to enjoy an unquestioned position at the heart of British life. Do you feel that you're at all to blame for the fact that survival of the monarchy is now a question that people are asking?

a:  No, I don't feel blame. I mean, once or twice I've heard people say to me that, you know, ´Diana's out to destroy the monarchy', which has bewildered me, because why would I want to destroy something that is my children's future.

I will fight for my children on any level in order for them to be happy and have peace of mind and carry out their duties.

But I think what concerns me most of all about how people discuss the monarchy is they become indifferent, and I think that is a problem, and I think that should be sorted out, yes.

q:  When you say indifferent, what do you mean?

a:  They don't care. People don't care any more. They've been so force-fed with marital problems, whatever, whatever, whatever, that they're fed up.

I'm fed up of reading about it. I'm in it, so God knows what people out there must think.

q:  Do you think the monarchy needs to adapt and to change in order to survive?

a:  I understand that change is frightening for people, especially if there's nothing to go to. It's best to stay where you are. I understand that.

But I do think that there are a few things that could change, that would alleviate this doubt, and sometimes complicated relationship between monarchy and public. I think they could walk hand in hand, as opposed to be so distant.

q:  What are you doing to try and effect some kind of change?

a:  Well, with William and Harry, for instance, I take them round homelessness projects, I ve taken William and Harry to people dying of Aids - albeit I told them it was cancer - I ve taken the children to all sorts of areas where I'm not sure anyone of that age in this family has been before.

And they have a knowledge - they may never use it, but the seed is there, and I hope it will grow because knowledge is power.

q:  What are you hoping that that experience for your children - what impact that experience will have on your children?

a:  I want them to have an understanding of people's emotions, people's insecurities, people's distress, and people's hopes and dreams.

q:  What kind of monarchy do you anticipate?

a:  I would like a monarchy that has more contact with its people - and I don't mean by riding round bicycles and things like that, but just having a more in-depth understanding.

And I don't say that as a criticism to the present monarchy: I just say that as what I see and hear and feel on a daily basis in the role I have chosen for myself.

q:  There's a lot of discussion at the moment about how matters between yourself and the Prince of Wales will be resolved. There's even the suggestion of a divorce between you. What are your thoughts about that?

a:  I don't want a divorce, but obviously we need clarity on a situation that has been of enormous discussion over the last three years in particular.

So all I say to that is that I await my husband's decision of which way we are all going to go.

q:  If he wished a divorce to go through, would you accept that?

a:  I would obviously discuss it with him, but up to date neither of us has discussed this subject, though the rest of the world seems to have.

q:  Would it be your wish to divorce?

a:  No, it's not my wish.

q:  Why? Wouldn't that resolve matters?

a:  Why would it resolve matters?

q:  It would provide the clarity that you talk about, it would resolve matters as far as the public are concerned perhaps.

a:  Yes, but what about the children? Our boys - that's what matters, isn't it?

q:  Do you think you will ever be Queen?

a:  No, I don't, no.

q:  Why do you think that?

a:  I'd like to be a queen of people's hearts, in people's hearts, but I don't see myself being Queen of this country. I don't think many people will want me to be Queen.

Actually, when I say many people I mean the establishment that I married into, because they have decided that I'm a non-starter.

q:  Why do you think they've decided that?

a:  Because I do things differently, because I don't go by a rule book, because I lead from the heart, not the head, and albeit that's got me into trouble in my work, I understand that. But someone's got to go out there and love people and show it.

q:  Do you think that because of the way you behave that's precluded you effectively from becoming Queen?

a:  Yes, well not precluded me. I wouldn't say that. I just don't think I have as many supporters in that environment as I did.

q:  You mean within the Royal Household?

a:  Uh,uh. They see me as a threat of some kind, and I'm here to do good: I'm not a destructive person.

q:  Why do they see you as a threat?

a:  I think every strong woman in history has had to walk down a similar path, and I think it's the strength that causes the confusion and the fear.

Why is she strong? Where does she get it from? Where is she taking it?

Where is she going to use it? Why do the public still support her? When I say public, you go and do an engagement and there's a great many people there.

q:  Do you think the Prince of Wales will ever be King?

a:  I don't think any of us know the answer to that. And obviously it's a question that's in everybody's head. But who knows, who knows what fate will produce, who knows what circumstances will provoke?

q:  But you would know him better than most people. Do you think he would wish to be King?

a:  There was always conflict on that subject with him when we discussed it, and I understood that conflict, because it's a very demanding role, being Prince of Wales, but it's an equally more demanding role being King.

And being Prince of Wales produces more freedom now, and being King would be a little bit more suffocating. And because I know the character I would think that the top job, as I call it, would bring enormous limitations to him, and I don't know whether he could adapt to that.

q:  Do you think it would make more sense in the light of the marital difficulties that you and the Prince of Wales have had if the position of monarch passed directly to your son Prince William?

a:  Well, then you have to see that William's very young at the moment, so do you want a burden like that to be put on his shoulders at such an age? So I can't answer that question.

q:  Would it be your wish that when Prince William comes of age that he were to succeed the Queen rather than the current Prince of Wales?

a:  My wish is that my husband finds peace of mind, and from that follows others things, yes.

q:  Why have you decided to give this interview now? Why have you decided to speak at this time?

a:  Because we will have been separated three years this December, and the perception that has been given of me for the last three years has been very confusing, turbulent, and in some areas I'm sure many, many people doubt me.

And I want to reassure all those people who have loved me and supported me throughout the last 15 years that I'd never let them down. That is a priority to me, along with my children.

q:  And so you feel that by speaking out in this way you'll be able to reassure the people?

a:  Uh,uh. The people that matter to me - the man on the street, yup, because that's what matters more than anything else.

q:  Some people might think - some people might interpret this as you simply taking the opportunity to get your own back on your husband.

a:  I don't sit here with resentment: I sit here with sadness because a marriage hasn't worked.

I sit here with hope because there's a future ahead, a future for my husband, a future for myself and a future for the monarchy.

q:  Your Royal Highness, thank you.

home .  join the discussion .  pictures .  bbc interview .  interviews .  readings
morton book controversy .  press & the royal family .  links .  press reaction .  tapes & transcripts

web site copyright 1995-2014 WGBH educational foundation

pbs online