UK's Channel 4 to put Diana's private recordings under full public glare
British television Channel 4 has defended its decision to broadcast recordings of Princess Diana candidly discussing her personal life, after some royal watchers called it a betrayal of the late princess' privacy. The channel said that the video tapes, made in the early 1990s, are an "important historical source" and place Diana "front and center" in her own story as Britain marks 20 years since her unexpected death.
The channel said that although the recordings were made in private, "the subjects covered are a matter of public record and provide a unique insight into the preparations Diana undertook to gain a public voice and tell her own personal story." Diana Spencer married Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, in 1981 and the couple had two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry. They separated in 1992 and divorced in 1996, the year before Diana died in a car crash in Paris, aged 36.
The recordings of Diana talking to voice coach Peter Settelen were made at the princess' Kensington Palace residence, and include discussion of her failing marriage and Charles' relationship with his then-mistress Camilla Parker Bowles. Charles and Camilla went on to marry in 2005.
Rosa Monckton, a friend of Diana, said broadcasting the tapes was "a betrayal of her privacy and of the family's privacy." Former royal spokesman Dickie Arbiter told Sky News that it was "absolutely shameful" that the tapes were being broadcast, saying that Diana's family would find it "very hurtful."
Settelen made the recordings at a low point in Diana's life, after she had rocked the royal family by cooperating on a biography that went public with her unhappiness and the failure of her marriage. The 20 videotapes were held by police after they were seized from ex-royal butler Paul Burrell's home in 2001 during an investigation of alleged theft from the late princess.
The theft case was later abandoned and Diana's family tried to make a legal claim to the recordings, but they were returned to Settelen in 2004. Portions of the recordings were broadcast by US network NBC in 2004, but they have never been shown in Britain.
They feature in a Channel 4 documentary that is due to air Sunday. William and Harry's Kensington Palace office declined to comment on the documentary. During the 20th anniversary of Diana's death on August 31, 1997 the princes have spoken publicly for the first time about their mother and the pain of losing her.
Di 'wanted to run away with bodyguard Barry Mannakee'
Princess Diana wanted to run away with a bodyguard with whom she had fallen "deeply in love" to escape her loveless marriage with Prince Charles, according to Diana's privately recorded videos.
In the recordings, she admits falling in love with her bodyguard Barry Mannakee and also discloses her conversations with Charles over his affair with then Camilla Parker-Bowles.
"When I was 24 or 25, I fell deeply in love with someone who worked in this environment. I was quite happy to give all this up..just to go off and live. He [Mannakee] kept saying he thought it a good idea too," she said.
"I just needed someone to tell me I was all right and he mentally kicked me outside and made me go and do my engagements because I used to scream in this room [in Kensington Palace]. I should never have played with fire and I did and I got burnt," she says.
Diana, however, denies that it was a sexual relationship and says that "it was all found out and he was chucked out and then he was killed [in a motorbike accident] and that was the biggest blow of my life". "He was the greatest friend I've ever had. That was a real killer," she says.
In the tapes, she describes the blunt response by Charles on being confronted about his affair as, "I refuse to be the only Prince of Wales who never had a mistress".