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1995 Princess Diana interview to be probed after allegations she was tricked

The landmark interview shocked the nation as Diana shared intimate details of her failed marriage to the heir to the throne, Prince Charles.

LONDON — Prince William has "tentatively welcomed" an investigation into how Britain's public broadcaster secured an interview with his mother, Princess Diana, 25 years ago, following accusations that she was tricked into taking part.

The 1995 BBC interview came under fresh scrutiny this month after a new documentary, "The Diana Interview: Revenge of a Princess," alleged that correspondent Martin Bashir used dishonest tactics to earn the princess's trust. The probe began on Wednesday.

The interview, watched by 20 million at the time, shocked the nation as Diana shared intimate details of her failed marriage to the heir to the throne, Prince Charles.

Image: Britain's Prince William.
Britain's Prince William.Jack Hill / Reuters file

The new documentary claims that Bashir, currently the BBC's religion editor after working for a time at ABC News and MSNBC, had a graphic designer create fake bank statements, which he allegedly used to convince Diana's brother, Charles Spencer, that royal employees were being paid to spy on her.

Spencer has demanded an apology from the BBC for what he said were forged documents, which led him to introduce Bashir to his sister.

Late Wednesday, the prince's office issued a statement saying that hewelcomed the inquiry into the interview.

"The independent investigation is a step in the right direction," William, the Duke of Cambridge, said in the statement.

"It should help establish the truth behind the actions that led to the Panorama interview and subsequent decisions taken by those in the BBC at the time," the statement added, referring to the show that ran the interview.

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The investigation, announced earlier this month, will be led by a former Supreme Court justice, the BBC said in a statement, and will focus on how the broadcaster obtained the interview and whether executives covered up any wrongdoing.

"The BBC is determined to get to the truth about these events," BBC Director-General Tim Davie said. "That is why we have commissioned an independent investigation."

The broadcaster said that the investigation would start right away, would hand over all relevant records and publish a report at its conclusion.

Two years before Diana's 1997 death in a car crash in Paris, she gripped a nation fascinated by glimpses of inner royal life when she shared details of her unhappy marriage.

She told Bashir that "there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded," a reference to Charles' relationship with his now-second wife, Camilla.

Bashir has not spoken publicly about the latest claims and did not respond to an NBC News request for comment.

He is currently recovering from heart surgery and complications of Covid-19, the BBC said in a statement.

An internal investigation by the BBC after the original broadcast concluded that Bashir did not coerce Diana into giving the interview. The new inquiry is tasked with examining that investigation, too.

The release of the fourth season of Netflix's "The Crown" series on Sunday, which features Diana as a character, has also heightened international interest in her life.