Unseen tapes of Princess Di aired
To coincide with the 20th anniversary of her death
CONTROVERSIAL tapes of Princess Diana’s elocution lessons are to be shown on a British channel, 10 years after the BBC shelved plans to broadcast them for fear of upsetting the royal family.
In the unseen videos, recorded by voice coach Peter Settelen, Diana speaks candidly about her upbringing, troubled marriage and her public life.
The clips have been the source of considerable anguish for her family, who lost a lengthy dispute to seize control of them between 2001 and 2004.
Such was the continued controversy that in 2007 the BBC scrapped a £100 000 (R1.7 million) documentary featuring them, following criticism that broadcasting the tapes would be bad taste and “ghoulish”.
Channel 4 has announced that it will air Diana: In Her Own Words next month, weeks before the 20th anniversary of the princess’s death.
While the channel’s Ralph Lee insists the documentary will be an “important contribution to the historical record”, the decision to broadcast the clips risks a fresh row with Diana’s family.
The private coaching sessions between Settelen and the princess took place in 1992 and 1993 in Kensington Palace to help her with public speaking, a few years before her now-infamous Panorama interview.
It is understood that seven of the 16 videos that Settelen recorded were seized by Scotland Yard in 2001 during a raid on the home of Diana’s former butler, Paul Burrell.
The content of the tapes was regarded as so sensitive that the prosecution agreed not to use them in Burrell’s trial – he was accused of stealing items belonging to Diana, but the case collapsed in the Old Bailey Court in 2002.
The tapes were sold to US broadcaster NBC for an undisclosed sum and excerpts were broadcast in 2004. The BBC paid £30 000 for three minutes’ footage.
The clips may include those aired by NBC, in which she told of running to Queen Elizabeth after she became convinced that Charles had resumed his romance with Camilla Parker Bowles.
Other admissions included how she was deeply in love with a royal protection officer, presumed to be Barry Mannakee.
He was killed in a motorcycle accident and Diana said she believed he was “bumped off” because of their affair.
Channel 4 has confirmed that it is using double the amount of footage that the BBC bought.
Said Lee: “The tapes, which show a relaxed and off-duty Diana, are hugely illuminating about her personality, humour and charm.
“Combined with historical context and interviews with her closest confidants, this film provides a nuanced, multi-layered portrait.
“This film gives Diana a voice and places it front and centre at a time when the nation will be reflecting on her life and death. It is her account of events both private and public and is an important contribution to the historical record.”
The documentary will also include interviews with Diana’s long-term friend Dr James Colthurst and her ballet teacher Anne Allan, neither of whom has ever spoken on the record.
THE PEOPLE’S PRINCESS: Princess Diana with children at a Red Cross feeding scheme in Zimbabwe in July 1993.