In a 1995 interview with the BBC's Martin Bashir, Princess Diana laid out her opinions on everything from her marriage to Prince Charles, the royal family, and the future of her two sons, William and Harry. The interview caused a scandal at the time for its salacious details, as well as for Diana's admissions to her body image and mental health issues. One part of the interview, however, was overlooked but is now getting more attention as Prince William inches closer and closer to the throne.
In 1992, however, Princess Diana was also caught in the spotlight for the publication of a tell-all book written by the journalist, Andrew Morton. The book "Diana: Her True Story" contained many of the same secrets that Diana would later share with Martin Bashir during her BBC interview. While no one admitted it at the time, Diana later said that she had participated in the writing of the book and encouraged her friends and family to participate as well.
The book was based, it was later revealed, on hundreds of hours of recorded interviews that Diana gave in-person to Morton. The Royal Family was very upset with the book and its contents and the fact that Diana had revealed a lot about the inner workings of the monarchy.
With both of their affairs out in public, the marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales began to crumble, at least publicly. Charles has always maintained - Diana did as well - that the marriage had broken long before their secrets came out. It was his realization that his marriage to Diana was doomed that lead him to rekindle his affair with Camila Parker Bowles. Diana revealed in the Bashir interview that the couple tried to maintain the facade but that things inevitably came to a head, and their ruse was unsustainable.
Throughout the Bashir interview, both Bashir and Diana make reference to her two children, William and Harry, and how they've dealt with the scandal surrounding their parents. William is mentioned quite often as he is the eldest and perhaps understood more about the scandal than his younger brother, Harry.
One of the most endearing qualities of Princess Diana was her unabashed love for her two boys, Prince William and Prince Harry. The feeling, of course, was mutual, as William, in particular, was very close to his mother, even protective. In one of the more tender moments in the otherwise salacious Bashir interview, Diana related how William reacted to the news of her affair with James Hewitt being made public.
James Hewitt, as Diana described it, had deceived her when he told her that his book was nothing to worry about when it was about to come out. She felt betrayed when the book did finally come out and revealed everything about their dalliance. When the news reached Diana, she immediately went to see William, who gave his mother a box of chocolates because he had understood that someone had hurt his mother.
Diana was quite open about her sons, especially William, but admiringly. In the Bashir interview, she describes William - who was only thirteen years old at the time - as a deep thinker. She said it in the context of how William reacted to the scandal enveloping his mother and father, meaning that the young prince was still processing everything that was happening.
Despite the cheating, the betrayals, the humiliation, and the lies, Diana was very much against getting divorced from Prince Charles. Diana came from a broken home, something that was public knowledge, and when she was posed the question, "Would it be your wish to divorce?" she answered emphatically, "No, it's not my wish."
Even when pressed by Bashir, who followed up his question by saying that a divorce would give her more freedom, peace of mind, etc., Diana was steadfast. She said that even though a divorce would give her some measure of comfort, it would be damaging for her children. "What about the children?" she remarked. "Our boys - that's what matters, isn't it?"
When asked whether she would ever be Queen, Diana answered immediately, "No, I don't, no." At that point, Diana becoming Queen was a possibility, even a far-off one. She and Charles were only separated and not yet officially divorced. If they would've stayed together, and if she would have lived, she may well have become Queen when Charles ascended to the throne.
After stating that she would never be Queen, Diana uttered the words now most associated with her and her public persona. Rather than being Queen of England, Diana expressed a desire to be the "queen of people's hearts." She continued in this vein, explaining that the monarchy needed to connect with people on a more emotional level.
Connecting with people and understanding their hopes, dreams, and fears were all lessons that Diana wished to impart to her children so that they could become a new type of monarch, especially William. When asked whether William should become Queen Elizabeth's successor, Diana cryptically answered that her "wish is that my husband finds peace of mind, and from that follows other things, yes."
Diana was, no doubt, cognizant of the fact that either William or Harry would become king one day. To that end, she said that she wished to prepare them for their future roles by exposing them to the most vulnerable people in society - the ill, the homeless, the dying - to make them better, kinder, and more empathetic rulers. She said that she wanted to implant in her children the seed of knowledge, saying, "they may never use it, but the seed is there, and I hope it will grow because knowledge is power."
William was initially angered by his mother's tell-all interview with Martin Bashir. William was studying at Eton at the time, and Diana came to see him, but he refused to see her, which carried on for a few weeks. Eventually, William's love for his mother gave way, and he forgave her.
The fallout from the Bashir interview was severe for everyone involved. Diana later came to regret the entire interview, as she feared that it did not help her at all. The Queen was also not pleased, as she wrote a letter to her son Charles to get a divorce quickly to settle the matter once and for all. But one thing that stands out from the interview is Diana's hope for her sons to be the compassionate, connected, and open monarchs that she strived to be during her lifetime.
Were they any other important takeaways from the Bashir interview that we missed? Do you think William should ascend to the throne instead of his father? Let us know in the comments section below. At the end of the interview, Martin Bashir asked Diana why she agreed to do the interview. She answered that she wanted to reassure the people that loved and trusted her that she would never let them down. Whether she achieved that goal is hard to say, but given the outpouring of grief and love following her tragic, untimely death, it seemed that she did finally become the queen of people's hearts.