HBO defends its use of controversial Princess Diana footage for ‘The Princess’ documentary

Aug 16, 2022
Prince William has previously stated the clip should "never be aired again." Source: Getty

Just five days after the premiere of HBO‘s latest Princess Diana documentary the film’s creators are defending their choice to include infamous clips from the late Princess’s life.

The Princess, which was released in cinemas on August 11, was meant to give royal fans an “intimate and immersive look” into her life leading up to her death by using archival footage and audio of “key events” in Diana’s life.

“This feature documentary tells the story of Princess Diana exclusively through archive footage from the time, without commentary from today,” the documentary’s director Ed Perkins told People.

The footage that has sparked controversy is the scandalous 1995 BBC Panorama sit-down interview Diana had with journalist Martin Bashir.

The same interview Prince William had previously said should never air again following a 2021 investigation that found that Bashir had used deceitful methods to secure the interview.

Earlier this year, BBC Director-General Tim Davie issued an apology to the royal family for the interview and “for the way in which Princess Diana was deceived and the subsequent impact on all their lives”.

“It is a matter of great regret that the BBC did not get to the facts in the immediate aftermath of the program when there were warning signs that the interview might have been obtained improperly, ” Davie’s statement said.

“Instead, as The Duke of Cambridge himself put it, the BBC failed to ask the tough questions. Had we done our job properly Princess Diana would have known the truth during her lifetime. We let her, the royal family and our audiences down.”

BBC Director-General Tim Davie issued an apology “for the way in which Princess Diana was deceived and the subsequent impact on all their lives”. Source: Getty

At the time Davie promised that the BBC would “never show the program again; nor will we license it in whole or part to other broadcasters”. Despite Davie’s commitment, one month later reports that HBO was planning to use the infamous clip as part of their documentary began to emerge.

While Perkins admitted that the documentary is “probably not a story that the royal family is desperate to continually revisit” he argued that the interview was “shown briefly, in context, as a moment of historical record.”

“Our intention was to create a film that first and foremost felt kind of emotionally-driven and immersive and that we would give audiences the space to kind of come to their own conclusions and bring their own hindsight to bear on this story,” Perkins said.

Buckingham Palace is yet to release a statement regarding the documentary, but both Prince William and his younger brother, Prince Harry, have claimed that the Panorama interview ultimately contributed to their mother’s death in 1997.

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