This week in the UK, a time-traveling visitor to the 1990s could have been excused for thinking Princess Diana never died.
For Diana, perhaps the most iconic figure in modern royal history, has been everywhere.
Diana’s tragic story is, for example, the beating heart of the new Netflix series from The crown, which becomes available to stream on Sundays. Played by newcomer Emma Corrin, the shy Diana of The crown seems ready to conquer the small screen this winter.
Diana has also not been far from the minds of avid observers of the Royal Family due to her two sons’ increasingly nasty feud. Meghan and Harry’s sense of victimization by the Royal Establishment seemed to many like one of the rhyming couplets in history, except that these two managed to escape the overwhelming gravitational field of Buckingham Palace (one imagines that Diana would be delighted for them, so saddened by the animosity between her beloved boys).
Among the many oddly Diana-centric coincidences of this moment is the fact that the next time we see William and Harry standing side by side is at an event to unveil a statue of their mother at the summer 2021.
However, Diana is back in the news this week amid extraordinary allegations of corrupt journalism linked to Martin Bashir’s famous interview, in which she revealed her marriage was “a bit crowded.” Twenty-five years after this interview, persistent rumors that Diana and her brother, Earl Spencer, were persuaded to engage with Bashir through deception on his part have now been confirmed.
It has long been known that Bashir ordered a graphic designer to create fake bank statements suggesting that trusted assistants were selling secrets to the press and passing intelligence on to UK security services, in an apparent attempt to fuel Diana’s insecurities. .
Now, however, the designer who faked the bank statements and who was used for decades as a scapegoat by the BBC, has given an interview to an ITV program investigating the background and fallout of this week’s interview. Matt Wiessler, 58, said he was tricked into believing the statements he made were simply being used as props, and was horrified when he learned that they had in fact been presented to Earl Spencer, being part of Bashir’s campaign to get Diana to sit down with. him.
When the Daily mail revealed, six months after the interview was first shown, the existence of false statements, the BBC cleared Bashir and effectively blamed Wiessler by saying she would never work with him again. After being blacklisted in this way, he quit the media and now works for a bicycle design company in the English countryside.
Bashir, on the other hand, went on to be hailed as one of the great celebrity interviewers of his generation and to have a history-rich career that included his devastating series of interviews with Michael Jackson.
Wiessler said in the new interview, screened this week: “I was the one who was going to be the fall guy in this story. All I want is the BBC in this case to come forward and honestly apologize. Because it had a huge impact.
He told the program: “I’m this guy who is remembered for forging the document and I want to have my name erased.”
He thought the bank statements he was asked to create were going to be used for background photos, in fact Bashir brought the fakes to Earl Charles Spencer. Spencer said that this, along with other deceptions, was the reason he introduced Bashir to his sister. He demands a posthumous apology from Diana and a fully independent investigation into the BBC’s treatment of what he calls “a whitewash” and “a web of deception”.
Wiessler said he was afraid to speak up before now, in part because he was scared when computer disks containing the fake bank statements were stolen from his London apartment in a burglary.
He said: “I got pretty paranoid, because I thought there had to be more to this story than I could ever dream of. Because, why would this happen? Why would someone break in? And I wasn’t getting any clear answer from anyone.
Spencer says that While the documents led him to introduce Bashir to Diana, after the actual meeting with Diana (which he attended) he tried to discourage her, because Bashir had told a series of fantastic stories, including that The Queen was terminally ill, Prince Edward had an incurable disease, and 13-year-old Prince William’s new Swatch watch was being used to spy on his mother.
“Bashir deliberately played on her extremely suspicious nature and the fact that she was well known to be a fragile personality, very likely to believe in all kinds of extravagant things …“
– Lady Colin Campbell
Royal writer Lady Colin Campbell, who was close to Diana until 1991 when they fell out, told the Daily Beast that Diana was vulnerable and paranoid and would have been easily convinced by such crazy stories.
“Bashir deliberately played on her extremely suspicious nature and the fact that she was well known to be a fragile personality, very likely to believe in all kinds of extravagant things that would have seemed unrealistic to most people,” he said. she declared.
Campbell had met Diana in the 1980s, as they were both involved in some of the same charities, and Diana had agreed to a project where Campbell would write a book with her about those charities.
In dozens of meetings at Kensington Palace, Diana changed course and asked Campbell to write an unauthorized biography of her. Diana let her down, Campbell says, when she made it clear that her book would not be heavily biased in favor of Diana. Diana turned to Andrew Morton to do the job instead, but Campbell released her book, Diana in private, six months before Morton.
Campbell’s book revealed, before Morton, that Diana was bulimic. He also revealed that Diana and Charles had had affairs.
Further evidence of Diana’s vulnerability to conspiracy theories can be found in Campbell’s revelation that Diana believed her first extramarital lover, police bodyguard Barry Mannakee, who was killed in a motorcycle crash. , was assassinated by the security services.
“She definitely had a paranoid streak in her personality, but that didn’t change the fact that she had enemies. Bashir cleverly played on it all and knocked her down, ”Campbell told The Daily Beast.
Perhaps having been so ruthlessly targeted by the tabloids and victimized by the royal family, Diana was also clearly ready to speak to an interviewer like Bashir to try and convey to the public what she had been through. She was pursued by paparazzi wherever she went, and the whole Palace machine was against her.
Royal biographer Penny Junor – previously sympathetic to Prince Charles – told the Daily Beast that if there was “any doubt”, Bashir got to Diana “feeding off her paranoia and insecurity” via the fake bank statements that suggested her closest associates were untrustworthy, “That once she decided she was going to do it, then she really enjoyed the process and was very happy with it. It was a very polite performance. The inexplicable thing is why she wasn’t thinking about her boys. But she was not in a very good state of mind.
We may get additional answers in the coming months, as the BBC has announced that it plans to conduct an independent investigation into all the allegations. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has even been drawn into the affair, saying that such an investigation was “the right way to go … As a public service broadcaster, we expect BBC journalists to adhere to the highest standards. higher. “
Sadly, the only man who might be able to answer all of the questions is indisposed. The BBC said it was unable to speak to Martin Bashir, now the company’s religious correspondent, as he was on sick leave, “gravely ill” with the coronavirus and recovering from a quadruple heart bypass surgery.
However, Bashir was apparently well enough to walk out of his $ 2.4million London townhouse last week, when he was pictured picking up a curry and a bottle of wine.
Hopefully he soon feels ready to speak to BBC investigators – and thus possibly wipe out the restless spirit that is Diana’s ghost forever.
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