Channel 4 has defended broadcasting intimate details of Princess Diana’s failed marriage to Prince Charles as an “important historical source” as her brother urged the broadcaster to pull the documentary.
The 90-minute programme, Diana: In Her Own Words, is due to be screened next Sunday and features Diana speaking to her voice coach about her struggling marriage and criticising the Royal Family.
The broadcast, to go out three weeks before the 20th anniversary of her death, has been condemned by her brother, Earl Spencer, according to the Mail on Sunday.
He reportedly told the broadcaster that showing controversial tapes will cause distress to Princes William and Harry.
The recordings were made by her voice coach Peter Settelen at Kensington Palace, but are arguably less revelatory than the Panorama interview in which she admitted adultery that was screened a few years later.
There are thought to be 12 video tapes in total and Channel 4 has based its documentary on seven of them, with the rest thought to be missing.
The BBC abandoned plans to broadcast the tapes for fear of upsetting the Royal Family in 2007 but they were aired on American TV network NBC in 2004, a move that was universally condemned.
In the tapes, Diana discusses Charles’s affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, dating the prince and how she fell in love with her bodyguard.
Speaking about the Channel 4 programme, Diana’s friend Rosa Monckton, told the Mail:
“How intrusive is this? It doesn’t matter that it was 20-odd years ago.
“The tapes should have been sent to the boys. I just think it is absolutely disgusting.”
Channel 4 said in a statement:
“The excerpts from the tapes recorded with Peter Settelen have never been shown before on British television and are an important historical source.
“We carefully considered all the material used in the documentary and, though 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, which culminated in her later interview for Panorama.”