William and Harry’s responses to the Dyson report

Last week, a report detailing Martin Bashir and the BBC’s actions surrounding getting the famous Princess Diana Panorama interview in 1995 was released. This report is called the Dyson report because it was prepared by high-profile lawyer and judge John Dyson (Lord Dyson). Lord Dyson was asked by the BBC to independently investigate if there was any deceit or other wrongdoing when Martin Bashir, a then-BBC employee, tried to convince Princess Diana to be interviewed on BBC program Panorama. This interview aired in November 1995 and was so explosive that it essentially forced the Queen to call for Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s divorce.

You can read my summary of the entire 127-page Dyson report here, but here are the main points found by Dyson’s investigation:

  • Martin Bashir lied to, manipulated, and deceived both Earl Spencer, Diana’s brother, as well as Princess Diana herself;
  • The BBC was complicit in Bashir’s actions as it did not supervise him well enough and made excuses for his behaviour; and
  • The BBC actively tried to make the story go away by performing an incomplete in-house investigation of the situation in 1996, not censuring Bashir, and not covering the story at all in its news programming.

On the day of the Dyson report’s release, both William and Harry released statements about it. These statements are very different in tone, so let’s go through them one by one.

Prince William’s response

Kensington Palace released the following response on behalf of Prince William:

In addition to the release of this statement to the press pool, Prince William also delivered the remarks in the statement in front of a pool camera at Kensington Palace. You can see the video of him reading the statement below:

Here is what I picked up on from William’s statement:

  • The language is STRONG. It clearly calls the BBC a group of incompetent, evasive, deceitful liars. This is almost unheard of language from a future king about a national broadcaster (or anything/one);
  • It puts a good deal of the dissolution of his parents’ marriage on the BBC. Again, extremely strong language;
  • The language around his mother, Princess Diana, evokes so much hurt and sadness. He was just a child when his mother died, and for him to say that the last few years of his time with his mother was tainted by what this interview did is just devastating;
  • He refers to Princess Diana as “my mother”, not “our mother”. Lots has been made of this, and I would like to know your thoughts on it. It could either be seen as language that William didn’t think twice about; after all, the statement is on his behalf and his behalf alone. On the other hand, it could be seen as a swipe at Harry and the fact that he feels like an only child;
  • Re: the point above, I would love to know if William knew that Harry was also going to release a statement on the Dyson report. If so, this would lead me to think that William was trying to twist the knife a bit with the “my mother” language. Actually, now that I think of it, both statements were embargoed until 10pm on the day they were released, so William must have known that Harry had written a statement, if not read Harry’s statement in full. So yeah, I would argue that William’s choice of language was deliberate; and
  • I don’t think that William should have used the term “fake news”. I understand what he was trying to say with it, but that term has been co-opted by Donald Trump and his supporters in such a huge way that it becomes way too political a statement for a member of the BRF to use.

Prince Harry’s response

Some thoughts on Harry’s statement:

  • Harry used his official royal monogram, the one he used in official correspondence during his time as a senior working member of the BRF. It was argued a bit on social media that this use is okay because Harry is sending out the statement in his personal capacity rather than in a working capacity. I don’t know how I feel about it. He easily could have not used any monogram, which is what most of us regular folk do. But it feels to me like he wanted to relive the glory of his official royal status a bit;
  • This statement reads as much less angry and aggressive than William’s;
  • The first line, about how Princess Diana dedicated her life to service, mirrors the “service is universal” language that Harry and Meghan released after Queen Elizabeth officially removed their royal patronages earlier this year;
  • The second sentence, which talks about “a culture of exploitation and unethical practices”, is again mirroring language about how Harry and Meghan feel about their relationship with the press. This language continues in the second paragraph. The entire statement is as much about Harry’s hurt and struggles as it is about his mother’s;
  • The second paragraph begins with language around taking accountability and owning negative actions. This language mirrors Meghan’s words about Kate taking accountability and owning having made Meghan cry before her wedding (allegedly). The language throughout this statement is much more California, much more about feelings and therapy language; and
  • The last paragraph is both a tribute to his late mother and a call to action to continue the work that she did.

Martin Bashir’s responses

Martin Bashir, the BBC reporter and cause of all of this mess, remains unrepentant. He released the following remarks after the Dyson report was released:

I never wanted to harm Diana in any way and I don’t believe we did.

Everything we did in terms of the interview was as she wanted, from when she wanted to alert the palace, to when it was broadcast, to its contents … My family and I loved her.

Even in the early 1990s, there were stories and secretly recorded phone calls. I wasn’t the source of any of that.

So he’s learned nothing, is laying blame elsewhere, and is claiming that he, a supposedly objective BBC journalist, “loved” her. Mkay. I don’t have the time to get into what I think of Martin Bashir, but it’s not positive. Let’s leave it at that.

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4 thoughts on “William and Harry’s responses to the Dyson report

  1. By “relationship” I think William is referring to their relationship as coparents rather than husband and wife. I think everyone already knew that marriage was over and done. I haven’t seen anything made out of the fake news comment so I wonder if that phrase isn’t as polarizing in the UK. It’s tacky regardless, imo, use an official term like yellow journalism or something. “Let’s remember” is the same language used in the birth certificate nonsense, remember? Also, Harry seems to not remember that Diana wanted him to help his brother make the monarchy successful so I think he might need the reminder more than anyone lmao.

    As for “my mother” vs “our mother” it is definitely deliberate though not a swipe at Harry. This statement might be more personal than most, however, this is the second in line to the British throne speaking to/about the national broadcaster. He isn’t saying this as a son and brother, he saying this as the future head of state, therefore it needs to be from him alone.

    Just by reading the statements you can really tell who Diana confided in. It just underscores the fact that Harry never got to know his mother as a human. It really seems like she was this superhero to him whereas William seems very much aware of everything she went through because of Martin Bashir. I think that’s why he’s so determined to blame Charles because he has had enough time with him to know his faults whereas Diana was only ever Mummy.

    Harry’s statement as a whole is so self-centered it’s ridiculous. Diana practically gets a passing mention but then straight back to woe-is-us. For someone who is just said that even horses are a trigger (but not polo lol?) since her death, he seems pretty unconcerned with the fact that Martin Bashir told Diana lies that caused her to GIVE UP THE RPOS THAT WOULD HAVE PROTECTED HER IN PARIS. It’s almost dismissive like “Yeah the BBC lied but don’t forget that my life sucks.” Never think my respect for Harry can go any lower but he always finds a way.

    Martin Bashir (or maybe his lawyer) is very sneaky. He isn’t denying lying to her or creating fake documents. In fact, everything he said is the truth. He didn’t mean to harm her, just use her to advance his career. He loved her, so he knew she had enough star-power to do that. He wasn’t the source, it was the graphics department. Sneaky sneaky MB…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agree with you, and thank you for the clarification about the Charles and Diana relationship – makes a lot of sense. Thanks for reading!

      Like

  2. Hi, I had so much I wanted to say about the statements that I was afraid I would forget because of the crazy news cycle with H and M, I’m so glad you posted the article. What I want to comment is not so much about the wording (though I will talk about that) but about the public reaction to them.

    Regarding William’s statement, I found upsetting part of the public reaction to it. This might have been more of an US than of the UK and other countries phenomenom and maybe it wasn’t a big deal in non-English speaking countries, but a lot of people on Instagram posts were criticizing and censoring William’s words without having read the entire statement or seen the full video statement, they were judging only based on quotes from the statement and without knowing the full story of what Bashir did. Some of these people already had prejudices against William and the BRF steaming from H and M’s Oprah interview, or were biased prior to that. One of the main criticism was the part where William said the interview perpetuated a false narrative, these people took issue with that saying he was alligning himself with Charles and not Diana and discrediting all that his mother said in the interview, including Charles cheating with Camilla. The other thing that people took issue with was William’s reference to Diana’s paranoia, againt they took it as William alligning himself with the BRF against Diana. Another issue they took against his words is that according to them, William was placing all the fault for Charles and Diana’s divorce over the interview, when the fault was only Charles because of the cheating and that William should have acknowledged that in his statement. Some were also at a lost about his words regarding “countless others” that had been hurt by the interview.

    What those people fail to understand (they like to give opinions without knowing all the facts of the case) is that the Panorama interview was incredibly hurtful to William. This was only made public a few years ago (I don’t remember if it was disclosed in Robert Lacey’s Battle of the Brothers or earlier, but I know is a fairly recent revelation). William was only 13 years old when the interview aired for starters, and he saw it alone at his headmaster’s office at Eton, where his headmaster found him crying afterwards. Hearing Diana say she had an affair with Hewitt, a man who he and his brother had known and even called “Uncle James”, felt like a huge betrayal for him. Even though for years William had been Diana’s confidant in certain matters, and was privy enough to the bad state of his parents’ marriage to the point he was on Diana’s side (and even yelled once at Charles that he “hated” him for making mummy cry), it also didn’t sit well with him some of the things Diana said against Charles (although using diplomatic language, Diana did insinuate Charles shouldn’t be king). So according to Battle of the Brothers, when Diana went to see William after the interview aired, William cried, pushed her away and reproached her the whole thing, shocking Diana enough to wonder out loud “what had she done to her sons”.

    Both Daily Mail’s reporter Richard Kay (who according to Kitty Kelley’s book The Royals, spoke with Diana so frequently and gave so many exclusives about her that he was considered his unofficial spokeperson) and her ex private secretary Patrick Jephson both wrote articles this weekend detailing how Bashir manipulated Diana and tangled her in his web of lies. Jephson’s account in particular shows how betrayed he felt for the fact Diana hid the taping of the interview from her staff; in his case he explained Diana and him had discussed doing an interview focused in her patronages and instead this interview felt vengeful, negative, etc. Although it can be argued Jephson has his own bias due to his former royal aide mentality, he does mention Diana gave the interview without considering the effect it would have on her sons. Kay on his part mentions Diana didn’t regret so much giving the interview but regretted parts of it, like admitting her affair with Hewitt and insinuating Charles shouldn’t be king. Knowing all this, I think is fair to say it did have an effect on her sons, or at least William, which didn’t occur to Diana when she agreed to do the interview, plus it did hurt other people outside the BRF (the aides that quit like Jephson, the aides she became suspicious of because of what Bashir told her, with goes to the point that it did increased fears and paranoias that granted, she already had in some degree) and it did clouded her last years (poor woman hired private companies to check her KP appartments for microphones), I’m sure at least William noticed this was happening.

    With all these factors, it isn’t surprising William’s fury at Bashir and the BBC for allowing Bashir’s tactics and covering him up for their own corporative interests. Whatever William feels or thinks about his father’s behaviour towards his mother, or about Camilla, is not related to the damage, real or exagerated in his mind, that he thinks Bashir and the BBC did to Diana. I don’t see why he should mention Charles in his statement in any way like some think. If William blames / blamed Charles for what happened to Diana, is not his style to air it publicly, and it doesn’t mean he can’t blame the BBC and Bashir for their part on what happened to Diana. We also need to keep in mind that in divorce cases, many children, specially when they’re minors, hope to the end that their parents reconcile or find a way to be together and not divorce. As much as William might have been aware at 13 that his parents marriage didn’t work, he might have hoped back then to keep the status quo his parents had, which was that of a separated couple. The interview prompted the Queen to write to both Charles and Diana asking them to divorce, something she had rejected before due to the Church of England / Anglican Church rules. William knows this for sure, so he probably hoped as a child that this would force his parents to remain married even if separated, and the interview dashed those hopes. As a grown man, maybe now he accepts a divorce was inevitable at some point, but still resents that the interview created more acrimony between his parents than what already existed, and he might think that had it not happened, his parents might have had a more amicable divorce that would have allowed his mother to keep her royal protection officers and her HRH (the UK press repeats she voluntarily gave up those officers and it seems that could have been because of her distrust of the staff after the Bashir interview). Given William’s resentment of the interview, it shouldn’t be surprising he wants for it to never be broadcasted again, and that he considers it invalid as a whole. We have to keep in mind he’s not an impartial party here. To treat all that Diana said as tainted by Bashir’s deception might be an exageration for us, but William is one of the most affected parties by this interview’s consequences and he probably is unable to analyze this in a impartial way like we can.

    Regarding the language and the “my mother” part, I think a case could be made for the slight / no slight towards H options. It could be argued he didn’t know what H would say, that he assumed H would also speak this way given their rift, and that’s why he went with it. It could also be argued he didn’t care what wording H would use, and decided to speak this way because he feels H has left him alone in all senses. Personally I’m not bothered by this, through this year alone H has made many statements in which he details how Diana’s death affected him, but said just a few words about how it affected both he and William, miraculously he made a couple of references to his brother in the Apple TV show and very on the fly, hearing him anyone would think Diana only had him as son, so if William feels like he has to remind people she was also his mother that’s fine by me. As for the “fake news” mention, I also think he shouldn’t have included it, for the simple reason that it’s a present day phrase that hadn’t been coined 25 years ago, and I don’t think present day expressions should be used retroactively to describe or qualify past situations. This, plus the fact that it was coined by he-who-shall-not-be-named, definetely make the use of that phrase something that is best to avoid.

    Some of the people that critized William’s statement praised H’s. I also think that for them to critize or lambast William’s statement is a way to suit the narrative in their minds about the racist BRF and how they were cruel or indifferent towards H and M

    H’s statement, first I have to mention that I didn’t pay attention to the monogram but I would say he shouldn’t have used it, it seems to me that doesn’t comply with their agreement with the Queen, even if this wasn’t published with commercial gain purposes (considering how much he has repudiated royal life, why cling to the use of its symbols?) I think this statement speaks more about H obsessions that are the product of his mother’s life and death, than of the actual deceipt by Bashir and the BBC. I also noticed the language he used, it mirrors M a lot, in fact he’s sounding more and more like her with each public appearance. He also couldn’t help promoting his definition of “service” through the simple mention of that word, which reminds people his definition of it / making again a sutil dig to the BRF by using that word in a way that reminds everyone of his prior use of it, almost like claiming ownership of that word. His mirroring of M’s way of talking becomes ridiculous with the “owning it” thing. One thing is to use that phrase in an interview and another one to use it in a written statement. This colloquial way of speaking might be fashionable now but is not formal and you want to be taken seriously when you issue an important statement like this one, using this phrase is a little like William using fake news, maybe they were both trying to connect with the younger public but you can convey your point without using gimmicks.

    The most concerning thing that comes off from H’s statement is his belief that nothing has changed in the pres and media during the last 25 years. This is linked to his statement in the Apple TV show and other statements saying history was going to repeat itself if he didn’t take his family out of the UK and the BRF. He’s tone deaf to the fact that his mother’s death did have an impact on the press’ behaviour afterwards. He acts like he never knew of the pact the Palace did with the press to provide photos of him and William a couple of times a year in exchange for them to be left alone, or acts like that pact was less than nothing as far he’s concerned. He also seems to ignore or not care than a similar pact seems to be working right now for his nephews (not sure if an actual pact was made or if it’s a tacit thing after the press realized William and Kate would release pics for the kids birthdays and first school days, mostly taken by Kate, and that the pics quality wasn’t bad either). H speaks like the press is hounding them in the same frenetic way they hounded Diana (which was pretty traumatic to him, given his statements to Oprah), and apparently in Battle of the Brothers his ex Cressida Bonas was quoted as saying he saw paps where there were none. This speaks more of his unresolved mental issues than of any opinion about the Dyson report, Bashir and the BBC. Maybe the bottom line is that for H the BBC, Bashir, the Daily Mail, the Sun, the Mirror, the Times, the paps, etc., they’re all the same in his mind, he can’t differentiate between them, and that’s why he said these practices are widespread and that nothing has changed.

    I do agree with the prior commentator that everything points out H wasn’t as privy to Diana’s issues like William was. We don’t even know what H knew or didn’t know about the Panorama interview when it first aired. Once I read an opinion that both William and H thought their mother was a saint and had idealized her. Admitting it could be true in both cases, again everything points out that is more true in H’s case. He seems to ignore many things about everybody in his family including Diana, in fact Kay’s article mentions a meeting H and William had with Diana’s friends a few years ago in KP to speak about the plans for her statue but it ended up with William asking if they had photos of her that he hadn’t seen before and H saying that he had “no idea what was going in his mother’s life” back then, that “he had no real memory of things”. So in her case, he has her in an altar unable to see her mistakes and flaws, and because he’s unaware of it all he feels in the right when he gives opinions about what she would say or do without realizing or accepting he could be in the wrong.

    As for Bashir, he seems the kind of person that won’t admit wrongdoing until the end. He’s a lost case. He will try to grab at straws like the fact Diana probably would have done an interview sooner or later; a part of her wanted to hit back at Charles for his 1994 interview and everything else; at least a part of her did want the divorce and knew a tell-all interview could put pressure on the BRF to authorize it; Diana already had some trust and paranoia issues because she had been spied on by individuals that were never caught (the squiddygate recording); and the fact Diana excused him of wrongdoing in a hand-written note (even if we now know she didn’t have the facts of the case we now have). Hopefully some more consequences of the legal kind will fall on this guy, he’s unrepentant as it is, so maybe legal action can change that.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ella and Carolina both have very thoughtful comments.

    I agree with Ella that William’s comment about his parents “relationship” referred to just that and not their marriage, which was effectively over in 1992 when they separated. Everyone knew there would be no reconciliation of the marriage, but there’s always hope that divorced parents can still have an amicable relationship.

    William’s statement was bold, but what puzzled me is how people just started attacking him on social media. I saw a tweet by an Ethics professor (!) essentially indicating Harry was Diana’s ONLY child. Here, I assumed an ethics prof was supposed to be a critical thinker.

    I stated in a previous comment that William’s use of “I” is fine in my opinion. He doesn’t speak for Harry and he knew Harry would write his own statement. I mean, can you imagine if William said “we” and attached Harry’s name to it? There would be a nuclear explosion from California. It’s been plainly evident that H&M don’t like people in the BRF talking about them, so the RF don’t.

    William saw first hand what his mother endured in her final years. She was truly hounded by the press, and she didn’t know who to trust. It must have been harrowing for him to watch her endure that as a teenager.

    Harry’s comment (good catch on the monogram) was focused more on him. It used more of the language his wife uses. What I found odd was that he gave the BBC and Bashir a pass, stating “they owned it.” Did they though? I mean, I’m all for reconciliation, but to accept this devious behavior that contributed to his own mother’s death because the BBC apologized, yet still harping on his father not giving him money is pretty weird.

    I will say this about Harry thinking he is hounded by the press. He’s not. Diana was. They literally spied on her while working out and chased her, contributing to her death. Harry and his wife may feel they are hounded, but it’s by social media and non-journalists commenting on them, not the actual press. They want to control what people think and say, well that won’t happen.You can go on any magazine’s social media and there’s tonnes of negative comments about them. That’s not the press. That’s the people. It’s harrowing for Harry to endure this, but it is of his own making. You can’t smear a revered person like The Queen and expect people to believe you. She has been impeccable for 95 years. Her brand is bigger than any of his celebrity friends and will win every time.

    Liked by 1 person

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