Friend of Diana urges Channel 4 to scrap ‘intrusive’ documentary

Rosa Monckton will tell the broadcaster that use of the Diana tapes, revealing conversations recorded by the Princess of Waless speech coach, is outrageous

One of Princess Dianas closest friends is writing to Channel 4 bosses asking them to scrap a forthcoming documentary using private video footage which includes Diana talking about about her sex life with Prince Charles.

Rosa Monckton, a confidante of Dianas until she was killed in a Paris car crash 20 years ago next month, will argue that the confessional videos that Diana made as part of a course of speech coaching amounted to therapy and that using them is an intrusion and outrage that betrays Dianas right to privacy.

The documentary is due to be broadcast on Sunday 6 August and Moncktons intervention will increase pressure on Channel 4 after Dianas brother, Earl Spencer, reportedly demanded the programme was dropped. Spencer is believed to have complained the documentary would hurt Dianas sons, Prince William and Prince Harry. The broadcaster confirmed that it had been in correspondence with Spencer but mounted a defence of the programme claiming the recordings, while made in private, were an important historical source. The princes have declined to comment.

This doesnt belong in the public domain, Monckton told the Guardian. It is a betrayal of her privacy and of the familys privacy. I certainly dont think they should be broadcast. The [tapes] should be dispatched to the young princes.

The key source material for the film, Diana: In Her Own Words, comes from recordings the princess made in 1993 with her public-speaking coach Peter Settelen as she talked about her life, ostensibly to help her improve her speeches on issues such as landmines and HIV and Aids. The tapes include her saying that sex with Charles happened once every three weeks and that aged 24 and already married, she fell deeply in love with an unnamed member of the royal household, widely thought to have been the close protection officer Barry Mannakee, who later died in a motorcycle accident. She recalled that in 1979, two years before their wedding Charles chatted me up. He was like a bad rash.

She added: He was all over me and I thought, you know, Urgh. Whereupon he leapt upon me and started kissing me and everything, and I thought, Waaah! This is not what people do.

She also talked about the engagement interview with Charles in which he was asked whether he was in love and answered whatever in love means. She recalled to Settelen that she had said yes, she was in love, like the fat Sloane Ranger that I was.

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William and Harry remember mother Diana in ITV documentary
The frank documentary is understood to have led to concern in palace circles over whether it is a consequence, at least in part, of Prince William and Prince Harrys strategy of speaking out emotionally and in highly personal terms in the run up to the 20th anniversary of their mothers death. The princes cooperated with both the BBC and ITV on recent documentaries and made a series of emotional statements about their grief. It marked a departure from the usual royal protocol of carefully guarding private matters and contrasted with their decision not to say anything about their private feelings on the 10th anniversary of her death in 2007, when they staged a pop concert at Wembley stadium in their mothers memory.

Some courtiers are understood to be concerned that one consequence of such an open approach is more intrusive documentaries, which may ultimately be damaging to the reputations of Diana and Prince Charles and upsetting for their sons.

It has been ill thought through, said one source, who remarked that cooperating with two broadcasters only sent other broadcasters scrambling for whatever [other material] they can get.

Prince Harry and the Duke [of Cambridge] sort of have to take what they get now, the source said. I dont believe Diana is being remembered now as the saint she has been painted to be. They will be thinking this is terribly unfortunate and they have been ill advised.

However, William and Harry are understood to have been long resigned to the fact that the 20th anniversary of their mothers death would always spark a proliferation of new TV programmes, not just in the UK but also in the US and Europe. They are understood to feel that cooperating with the BBC and ITV would not have contributed to the way other broadcasters are choosing to commemorate their mothers death. Their spokesman declined to comment.

Monckton was a close friend of the princess and holidayed with her in Greece a fortnight before the fatal car crash in Paris that claimed her life on 31 August 1997. She said she was around Diana when she made the tapes with Settelen.

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figcaption class=”caption” caption–img caption caption–img” itemprop=”description”> Watch the trailer for: Diana: In Her Own Words video

It was like therapy, what she was doing, said Monckton. I was around at that time. It was very wrong of him to ask all those leading questions and it was naive of her to have agreed to do it, but nonetheless it was like a therapy and therapy should remain private.

She said that to broadcast these tapes to the nation is an intrusion and would likely be painful for the princes.

It is unimaginable what it must be like for them, and I think one of the things they have struggled with is this public ownership of their mother, Monckton said. That is a very difficult thing to get your head around.

A spokeswoman for Channel 4 said: The excerpts from the tapes recorded with Peter Settelen have never been shown before on British television and are an important historical source. We carefully considered all the material used in the documentary and, though the recordings were made in private, the subjects covered are a matter of public record and provide a unique insight into the preparations Diana undertook to gain a public voice and tell her own personal story, which culminated in her later <a href=”https://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/1995/nov/21/greatinterviews” data-link-name=”in” body link” class=”u-underline”>interview for Panorama. This unique portrait of Diana gives her a voice and places it front and centre at a time when the nation will be reflecting on her life and death.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jul/30/friend-of-diana-urges-channel-4-to-scrap-intrusive-documentary

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