bitchy | Morton: It’s ironic that Prince William wants to ‘posthumously muzzle Diana’

We’ve been talking so much about the royals in the 1990s lately. The last years of Princess Diana’s life are still an “issue” for the eventual King Charles – Diana’s words have echoed around him for decades, which is why Charles will do anything to get Diana’s Panorama interview buried. The BBC has promised to never air the interview again, but it will still be used by other media outlets, and it will be dramatized by The Crown in the upcoming season. What’s interesting is that Prince William has joined with his father in trying to get Diana’s narrative erased from history. Now Diana’s biographer Andrew Morton has some thoughts on all of these machinations. Morton spoke to the Daily Beast’s Royalist column exclusively and while I think Morton is pretty hacky these days, he actually made some interesting points. Some highlights:

On William demanding that the BBC never air Diana’s interview: “It is a supreme irony that it is her son who has led the calls to posthumously muzzle Diana, to silence her, to prevent her from being heard, from saying what she spent her life trying to articulate.”

Morton admits that Martin Bashir did fuel Diana’s paranoia: “Martin did contribute to her sense of paranoia, and her sense of being watched and so on. It was a febrile atmosphere at the time. We regularly swept Diana’s rooms at Kensington Palace for bugs. But Diana wasn’t the only one who was suspicious. The queen was baffled and concerned by the tapes that kept appearing. As well as the Charles and Camilla ‘tampon’ tape, there was ‘Squidgygate’ [in which Diana was taped talking to a friend candidly about a range of private matters] and a tape of [Prince] Andrew and Sarah [Ferguson] talking about their private lives. It’s understandable to conclude, when you have three intimate conversations by members of the royal family appearing on tape, that it is more than a coincidence, that it is a conspiracy.”

The Panorama interview is a historical record: “This is an important, historic interview that should be part of the public record. No accurate history or documentary of Diana can be made without referencing that interview. What she said was not an aberration; indeed, much of the ground it covered had been revealed in my book, Diana, Her True Story. For the BBC to lock it away in a vault is wrong.”

Diana had said all of it before: “The methods Martin Bashir used to get Diana to sit down and talk to him were underhand and deceptive, but the truth is that once the cameras were rolling, he didn’t twist her arm to say anything, and many of the things she said, such as discussing her bulimia, her suicide attempts, her husband’s relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles and the fact that she didn’t consider him fit to be King, were not aberrations. She was well known for saying these things to those in her circle, to the extent that they had become a kind of schtick. And they were all in my book, which had appeared three years previously. Panorama was a televised version of Diana: Her True Story. With the exception of the revelation about her affair with James Hewitt, Diana was only saying in that Panorama interview things that she had disclosed before to me.

Diana trusted the BBC to platform her story: “She very successfully used me to speak over the heads of the Palace ‘men in grey,’ as she called them, with Diana: Her True Story. Panorama was a similar attempt to reach over their heads and speak directly to her people—and it was a triumph. It is hugely ironic that somebody who tried so hard to articulate her message should find herself muzzled, after her death, by the very organization she trusted to deliver it, the BBC.

On Prince William’s claim that the Panorama interview made Charles & Diana’s relationship worse: “I’m afraid that is just not at all accurate. To say their relationship was terrible is obviously an understatement, but it was distant and angry long before Panorama, hence the separation in 1992. It is true to say that the interview did lead to the formal divorce. But after the divorce, the relationship actually improved, not least because Charles was able to have a more relaxed life with Camilla.”

[From The Daily Beast]

Morton is absolutely right, especially about how Diana already believed she was being tapped and bugged all the time. She went through burner phones constantly, she swept her apartment for bugs, and we know some of her calls *were* recorded, and all of that was before Bashir began telling her that she couldn’t trust the establishment (she already knew she couldn’t trust them). I also agree with Morton that Diana’s interviews must be preserved simply for the historical record. They ARE history and not just in the cultural sense. Diana was going to be Queen Consort and the institution set out to destroy her, as they’re all still trying to erase her memory. The fact that William is the one leading the charge… well, I only wish Morton had used harsher words.

Photos courtesy of Instar, Avalon Red.

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