Diana's friends urge Channel 4 not to show 'private' tapes

Princess Diana in London, in this file photo dated March 6, 1996.
Princess Diana in London, in this file photo dated March 6, 1996.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON • Friends of Princess Diana have urged a British television channel not to air footage of her pouring her heart out about her failed marriage to Prince Charles.

Ahead of the 20th anniversary of her death in a Paris car crash, Channel 4 will broadcast Diana: In Her Own Words on Sunday, despite a report in the Mail On Sunday that her brother Earl Charles Spencer is unhappy with the decision.

Her close confidante Rosa Monckton is writing to the channel to ask it not to show the tapes, said British reports.

"How intrusive is this? It doesn't matter that it was 20-odd years ago," she told the Mail On Sunday. "Think of the hurt they are causing to her family, to her sons."

The tapes show the late Diana speaking frankly to her voice coach Peter Settelen about her loveless marriage to the heir to the British throne and his affair with his mistress, Camilla Parker Bowles, who is now his wife.

She also discusses her struggle with bulimia and an unconsummated romance with a mystery man, widely believed to be her bodyguard Barry Mannakee, who died in a motorbike accident.

"At 24, I fell deeply in love with someone who was part of all this and that was all found out and he was chucked out and then he was killed. And that was the deepest blow in my life," she says in the footage.

The tapes were screened in the United States in 2004 and are available online, but they have not been broadcast in Britain before.

Defending its decision, Channel 4 said the footage was an important historical resource. "Though the recordings were made in private, the subjects covered are a matter of public record and provide a unique insight into the preparations Diana undertook to gain a public voice," it said in a statement. "This unique portrait of Diana gives her a voice and places it front and centre at a time when the nation will be reflecting on her life and death."

The tapes were filmed in 1992 and 1993 at Kensington Palace by Mr Settelen, around the time that Princess Diana separated from Prince Charles. She died in a car crash in Paris on Aug 31, 1997.

Twelve tapes were made, of which Mr Settelen owns seven following a legal battle after they were found in a police raid on the home of former royal butler Paul Burrell in 2001. The whereabouts and content of the other five are unknown. Mr Settelen's lawyer Marcus Rutherford said his client had been reluctant to show the tapes.

"But now, coming up to the 20th anniversary, with everyone, including her own children, discussing Diana and revisiting her life, he wants Diana to be able to speak for herself," he told The Sunday Telegraph.

Royal biographer Penny Junor told the BBC: "I think it is quite obscene that they are showing this - and immoral, frankly. Diana, when she made them... the marriage had just come to an end, they had broken up - she was in a very bad way."

The Princess "never intended these tapes to be heard by any living soul", she added, describing the broadcast as "exploitation".


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 02, 2017, with the headline 'Diana's friends urge Channel 4 not to show 'private' tapes'. Print Edition | Subscribe