Channel 4 is poised to air the documentary Diana: In Her Own Words, and despite the outrage surrounding the decision, Princess Diana’s former aide thinks the tapes will reveal who she really is as opposed to the royal family’s accusation that she was mentally unstable.
Patrick Jephson served as Diana’s equerry and private secretary from 1988 to 1996. He told the Radio Times (via the Express) that he isn’t upset over Channel 4’s decision. He believes the previously unseen tapes will shed light on the struggles of the “thoughtful and often funny” princess.
“It was a time when, with good reason, Diana felt herself to be under attack from advisers and friends of her estranged husband, who had chosen as their main weapon the accusation that she was mentally ill. Classy. She had every reason to be angry, trapped with the knowledge that her husband loved another woman.”
He says that through the documentary, people will see that the mother of two was “unmistakably articulate, realistic, modest and fun.”
The tapes were secretly recorded conversations between the People’s Princess and her voice coach and confidante Peter Settelen. He was then helping Diana prepare for her interview with Panorama in 1995.
In the tapes, she talked about her marital woes, her husband’s affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, her affections for her bodyguard, and her worries that the palace officials might take her sons away.
Diana’s brother Earl Spencer tried to stop the tapes’ broadcasting but failed to do so. Royal biographer Penny Junor described the project as “plain exploitation.” He thinks that the documentary will be “deeply hurtful” to Diana’s loved ones and that as long as the fascination goes on, “she will never be able to rest in peace.”
Former royal butler Paul Burrell, who once earned the ire of William and Harry when he published the tell-all A Royal Duty, believes that the tapes are like “raiding her diary.” He emphasized the tapes were made for Diana’s private use and that airing the “seedy tapes” would only be detrimental to two princes.
Rosa Monckton, also a friend of Diana, told the Guardian that the tapes do not belong to the public and will only betray the royal family’s privacy. Even if the tapes were filmed more than two decades ago, airing them would still be intrusive, she said.
Royal author Ingrid Seward, on the other hand, slammed Settelen for selling the tapes. She finds it unbelievable that a “TV station would stoop that low” just to improve its ratings. Settelen’s whereabouts are currently unknown.
“This is using Diana to make money and that is what killed her in the end,” she said.
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the network said that the tapes are vital “historical sources.”
[Featured Image by Ron Bell/AP Images]