Friday 25 May 2018

Princess Diana biographers blast Channel 4 documentary as 'gratuitous' and a 'nasty piece of programming'

Diana: In Her Own Words featured private recordings in which Diana spoke about her sex life

The divisive Diana documentary aired on Channel 4
The divisive Diana documentary aired on Channel 4
The Prince and Princess of Wales (PA Archive/PA)
Diana during a presentation of the first rose to be named after her (John Stillwell/PA)
The Prince and Princess of Wales aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia during their honeymoon (PA)

Princess Diana's biographers have branded Channel 4's controversial documentary featuring private recordings made by the princess as 'gratuitous' and 'incredibly mawkish'.

Diana: In Her Own Words featured private video recordings in which Diana revealed details of her relationship and sex life with Prince Charles.

Her voice coach Settelen recorded the footage of Diana talking about her life while coaching her for TV from 1992 to 1993.

While the documentary was a ratings winner for Channel 4 (it saw the channel record its highest overnight figures in over a year with an average of 3.5 million) it has been widely panned by critics.

'Diana: In Her Own Words' review: 'Stretching meagre snippets to a dour, ponderous 90 minutes required a lot of padding'

Now several royal experts have spoken out against the programme.

Speaking to The Times, biographer Hugo Vickers said it was in "very poor taste and unhelpful".  He added, "Tehy seem to be trying to damage everybody, it's quite a hostile programme".

"It's obviously very slanted against Prince Charles and Camilla. If alive, she would be allowed to make the decision [to challenge it] and I don't agree with it being done," he added.

The Prince and Princess of Wales (PA Archive/PA)

Fellow biographer Penny Junor said, "It looks like a guy who's got a very vulnerable young woman in the room with him.  It really is a nasty piece of programming and I think it will cause a great deal of upset."

She added, "This was a train smash of a marriage but two people were in that marriage and we have only heard from one of them."

Royal expert Robert Jobson told Sky News that a lot of the information featured in the documentary was already known.

Divisive Diana documentary is ratings win for Channel 4

"But it was gratuitous," he said, "There's no doubt about that.  I thought that she was in a pretty good place when she was making these films, so that was interesting historically.

"Because the [Andrew] Morton tapes, she was clearly basically wanting a divorce, and it was the longest divorce petition in history that book, and then you've got the Panorama interview where, frankly, she looked paranoid.

"Here she was laughing at herself, looking back at her life,a nd I thought she was in a pretty good place.  But, look, I think certain things shouldn't come out.  I don't think it was necessary."

The Prince and Princess of Wales aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia during their honeymoon (PA)

Jobson added that it would have been "excruciating" for Prince Charles to watch and he felt it wasn't "particularly helpful" and was just "about ratings, it's about adverts in between".

However, Diana's former royal protection officer told Sky News that he felt Channel 4 were right to air the documentary.

"We live in a democracy where we still have this freedom of speech," he said.  "And despite attempts by some to have Channel 4 cancel this programme, Channel 4 - quite rightly in my view - aired this programme, which has enormous appeal".

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