Princess Diana was so convinced she was being spied on after her separation from Prince Charles that she pulled apart telephones searching for listening devices.
The revelation came as a documentary about the late Princess Di aired in the UK, and as focus turns once more to a 1995 BBC interview that might have been secured by preying upon Diana’s vulnerable state.
After she and Prince Charles announced their separation in 1992, Diana was convinced the Royal Family was spying on her, eager to gather dirt to release to the press and smear her name.
Her former butler Paul Burrell told ITV’s The Diana Interview: Revenge of a Princess that she thought she was being followed, watched and surveilled.
“There were occasions when we pulled up the floorboards and unscrewed the end of the telephones to see if there are any listening devices,” Burrell said.
The ‘bombshell’ interview
It has been labelled Princess Diana’s bombshell interview, for how candidly Di spoke about her (at this stage still legal) husband’s affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles.
As the interview with BBC journalist Martin Bashir approaches its 25-year anniversary, questions about being raised about the ethics Bashir and the BBC used to secure the interview.
Already in a fragile state, Bashir created forged bank statements that were designed to make it look like someone close to Diana was being paid for trading information.
The documents were shown to her brother, Earl Spencer, who encouraged Diana to do the interview.
The BBC earlier this week announced it will hold a “full and robust” investigation into these sham documents.
It’s he-said, she-said about if Diana knew about the documents, and then further questions have been raised over if Bashir forged a letter purporting to be from the Princess that stated she was not coerced into doing the interview.
Diana’s biographer Andrew Morton told the ITV doco that Diana indeed knew about the documents.
“They would have been proof positive that there were machinations against her or against others in her family and elsewhere, and they would underscore the credibility of Martin Bashir, who was insinuating himself into her life,” Morton says on tape.
“I’ve spoken to friends of Diana who said we knew all about these statements before the interview and they had possibly tipped the balance when she was considering whether to do an interview or not.”
What was so important about this interview?
Many close to the Princess say the Panorama interview (called as such because of the BBC program it aired on) was a turning point for her mental health.
Rosa Monckton, a close friend of Princess Di, said she watched her change after that interview.
“Diana changed from being very concerned with day-to-day matters, just like any normal friend, to suddenly becoming obsessed with plots against her,” Monckton told the Daily Mail.
Monckton goes as far as to say that interview with Bashir led to Diana’s untimely death.
Monckton says that Bashir tapped into Diana’s insecurities about her relationship with Prince Charles – by now they had been separated for some time – so deeply that it affected her future choices.
She says had those seeds of anxiety not been watered, Diana might not have given away so much in her divorce to Prince Charles – most importantly, her Royal Highness title.
“Had she retained it, she would have still been in the embrace of the Royal Family when in Paris on August 31, 1997,” Monckton said.
“And she would almost certainly not have been in the incapable hands of a speeding drunk driver employed by Mohamed Al-Fayed, who owned the Ritz Hotel where she and his son, Dodi, had dined.”