Anyone younger than, say, 60 will be a tad surprised by the media – well, the Daily Hate Mail – brouhaha – over an interview conducted by the BBC journalist Martin Bashir with Princess Diana in 1995. I do remember the interview taking place but I didn’t bother to watch it. As now, the life and times of the royal family are of minimal interest to me, particularly now that the only really interesting one, Diana’s son Harry, is no longer part of the family firm. Anyway, the process leading to the interview was well dodgy. In fact, the revelations of Diana’s brother, Charles ‘Call me Earl’ Spencer have been out there for the benefit of people with too much time on their hands – I’m talking about you, Mail readers – for the best part of 25 years. Now Charlie Spencer wants his pound of flesh in the form of the BBC in general and Bashir in particular.
Bashir can defend himself, always assuming he recovers from heart surgery, as can the BBC, but it does raise a few interesting questions. Before Diana popped her clogs in Paris two years after the interview the media was full of Diana stories. And they were not always favourable. She became hugely popular once she died, but in the year before she was among the most hated people in the land. Oh yes she was, at least according to the media which now venerates her to the point of sainthood. She was neglecting her children in order to spend holiday after holiday in 1997 with a Muslim playboy, you see. She was on the outside of the royal family as her husband, Prince Charles Windsor was spending time with his true love, Camilla Parker Bowles.
And of course, Diana hated the publicity. That’s why she was happily interviewed by Bashir and why she happily cooperated with Andrew Morton for his book Diana, her true story, which was as near to a ghosted autobiography as you could get. It’s certainly fair to say that the very same media played a role in her death, too, but that’s for another day.
Maybe Charles Spencer – all these blokes called Charles eh? So hard to keep up – wants to make a few bob or maybe settle a score with Martin Bashir? Or perhaps like elderly Mail readers, he has too much time on his hands and he wants to recapture the bonkers mood in 1997 when the country ground to a halt when Princess Di died. Suddenly, from being a figure of scorn, she was the People’s Princess. That is not just how I remember it. That’s what literally happened.
Now, it’s Diana mania all over again, at least for the generation that was actually alive when she was. For the vast majority of everyone else, it’s a media storm and nothing else. And at a time when the country has ground to a coronavirus standstill, the economy is in tatters and we are about to have a massive rupture from Europe, why would anyone give a toss about this?