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Did Martin Bashir cause Princess Diana and Charles divorce? Queen told them to split after Panorama interview

Fans are wondering if the BBC interview was the last straw that led to the ultimate breakdown of Prince Charles' marriage tom Diana
Prince Charles and Princess Diana divorced a year after Martin Bashir's Panorama interview aired (Getty Images)
Prince Charles and Princess Diana divorced a year after Martin Bashir's Panorama interview aired (Getty Images)

After BBC's inquiry into Martin Bashir's infamous 1995 Panorama interview with Princess Diana concluded that the journalist used fraudulent means to procure the scoop with the late royal, fans began wondering if it was the last straw that led to the ultimate breakdown of Prince Charles' marriage. 

Prince William in a statement said that the interview made a "major contribution to making my parents' relationship worse", adding it has "since hurt countless others" after the report on the alleged wrongdoings by Bashir was revealed.

Through forged documents and a web of conspiratial misinformation, Bashir led Diana to believe that the royal family was targeting her, which in turn, led her to open up and be frank in a way that was not deemed fitting conduct for a royal at the time. 


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Diana's shocking 'three people' in the marriage comment

Princess Diana being interview by Martin Bashir for BBC Panorama in 1995 (BBC)

Princess Diana famously said her marriage had "three people" in it, a quote that shook the UK and has become the most famous quote from the interview. When Bashir asked: "Do you think Mrs Parker-Bowles was a factor in the breakdown of your marriage?" Diana, looked straight into his eyes with a piercing gaze and replied, "Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded."

Around 20 minutes into the interview, Bashir brought up a biography written by Jonathan Dimbleby, where it was rumored that Charles had renewed his relationship with his current wife Camilla Parker-Bowles. When asked if she knew about the affair, Diana replied: "Oh, a woman's instinct is a very good one." She claimed that she was told about the relationship by staff and people "who minded and cared about our marriage". The People's Princess also admitted the "pretty devastating" revelation left her with "rampant bulimia". She added that she knew her husband loved someone else by the "change in behavioral pattern...for all sorts of reasons that a woman's instinct produces".

However, coming from a broken family, Diana wanted to make things work with Charles. She said: "I think like any marriage, especially when you've had divorced parents like myself, you'd want to try even harder to make it work and you don't want to fall back into a pattern that you've seen happen in your own family. I desperately wanted it to work, I desperately loved my husband and I wanted to share everything together, and I thought that we were a very good team."

Diana was worried the interview was a mistake

Lady Diana Spencer and Camilla Parker-Bowles at Ludlow Races where Prince Charles is competing, 1980. (Photo by Express Newspapers/Archive Photos)

Princess Diana reportedly made a frantic phone call to her friend, astrologer Debbie Frank, just 24 hours before the interview aired, panicked that her admission about the state of her marriage to Prince Charles would cause "too many waves".

"She called me the day before it aired and said, 'I've done this big thing and I hope it's the right thing and doesn't create too many waves. I needed to tell my story – it's time people heard the truth," Debbie told The Sunday People. "She sounded quite breathy and in a highly charged state. She was worried the public might turn against her and that she had said the wrong thing."

Diana and Charles split a year after the interview

Prince Charles and Princess Diana (Getty Images)

Although Princess Diana was separated from Charles for three years at the time she decided to give the interview, she was still part of the monarchy. Meanwhile, the scandalous interview was kept a total secret from Buckingham Palace.

Sir Richard Eyre, ex-director of the National Theatre, told a Channel 5 documentary, 'Diana: The Interview That Shocked The World' in 2020, that he had lunch with the Queen in 1995 and she was upset by the interview. He claimed: "I had lunch with the Queen not long after and she said to me unprompted, 'How are things at the BBC?' and I said, 'Oh well, fine'. And she said, 'Frightful thing to do, frightful thing that my daughter-in-law did.'"

On December 20, Queen sent letters to the Prince and Princess of Wales, advising them to divorce, the Buckingham Palace announced. The Queen's move was backed by the Prime Minister and was decided after two weeks of discussions. Charles formally agreed to the divorce in a written statement and it was finalized on August 28, 1996.