The Real Reason Princess Diana Gave That Infamous Interview to Martin Bashir

Did someone think it could be a good idea?

Princess DianaPhoto: Wikimedia Commons/John Matthew Smith

Princess Diana’s infamous interview

Princess Diana was in a desperate situation in 1995. Her marriage to Prince Charles was unravelling over his affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles, she had been in love with another man herself, and she was questioning the role of the monarchy in modern life.

But when she revealed those shocking details during an interview with television journalist Martin Bashir, viewers were gobsmacked that a member of the buttoned-up royal family would divulge such information to the world.

As it turns out, Princess Diana may have been encouraged to speak out by another member of the royal family: Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York. That’s according to one of Diana’s close friends, Simone Simmons, who was interviewed for the Amazon Prime documentary, Diana: The Woman Inside.

Simmons said Diana called her after the interview and encouraged her to see it—before Diana had the chance to watch it herself. “She was very pleased with what she’d done at the time, she thought it was a great performance and she was thrilled,” royal biographer Penny Junor told the International Business Tribune. “She rang up her friends and said, ‘you must watch.'” Diana said she thought the piece would focus on her charity work.

But the interview that aired showed a tearful Diana revealing that “there were three people in this marriage.” She was referring to Prince Charles’s longtime love for Camilla Parker-Bowles. Diana and Prince Charles were separated at the time, and she admitted that she had an affair with cavalry officer James Hewitt. She also questioned her estranged husband’s fitness to be king.

Simmons recalled she didn’t hold back with her friend, telling her that she thought she had made a “prat” out of herself. Flabbergasted, she asked Diana who encouraged her to give the interview. Diana told her it was Fergie (a nickname for the Duchess of York) and another friend.

Apparently, Diana and Fergie had a complicated relationship, according to Town and Country. Distant cousins, they had been friendly before they married into the royal family. Diana sat the fun-loving Fergie next to her brother-in-law, Prince Andrew, then an eligible bachelor, at a dinner. Fergie later married Prince Andrew, but both she and Diana often felt alienated within the royal family.

Once Diana saw the interview, she was reportedly horrified by it. The next year, her divorce from Prince Charles was finalized. Then in 1997, Diana died after a car crash in Paris. One of her close aides later revealed that Diana “deeply regretted” what she said in the Bashir interview.

So what did Fergie think about the Bashir interview? On The View in 2003, she said Bashir “tricked” Diana into revealing the information.

“He lulled her into a comfort zone by being this wonderful magnanimous man and by saying ‘I’m a family man as well’ and got her to talk that way,” Ferguson said, according to the Guardian. “And, of course, ‘off the record’ doesn’t exist.”

Next, read up on the mysteries surrounding Princess Diana’s death.

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Originally Published on Reader's Digest