Princess Diana HBO Doc Creators Defend Using Controversial Panorama Clip Despite Prince William's Wishes

·4 min read
Diana, Princess of Wales (1961 - 1997) gives a speech at the Hilton Hotel in London, during the Headway Charity Lunch, in which she resigns from her public duties and asks for 'time and space', 3rd December 1993. (Photo by Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images)
Diana, Princess of Wales (1961 - 1997) gives a speech at the Hilton Hotel in London, during the Headway Charity Lunch, in which she resigns from her public duties and asks for 'time and space', 3rd December 1993. (Photo by Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images)

Princess Diana Archive/Getty Princess Diana

The filmmakers behind the latest documentary capturing the life and tragic death of Princess Diana are defending themselves.

The Princess, which premiered on HBO on Aug. 13, includes a clip of Diana from her infamous BBC Panorama interview in 1995. The sit-down has since been discredited after it was found that deceitful methods were used to secure the interview with Diana. Following the inquest in 2021, Diana's son Prince William stated his "firm view" that broadcasters and the media should never allow it to be shown again.

A spokesperson for The Princess tells PEOPLE, "This feature documentary tells the story of Princess Diana exclusively through archive footage from the time, without commentary from today. This interview is shown briefly, in context, as a moment of historical record."

In the interview, Diana famously said "there were three people" in her marriage — a reference to her husband Prince Charles's longtime affair with Camilla Parker Bowles — and spoke at length about her unhappiness in the royal family and questioned whether Charles would ever become King.

RELATED: The Most Emotional Moments from HBO's Princess Diana Documentary 'The Princess'

Over the course of the last two years, it has emerged that the interview was secured on the basis of deception by journalist Martin Bashir. An internal inquiry found that Bashir manipulated Diana's brother Charles Spencer in an effort to get close to Diana. He also made other unfounded allegations in order to gain Diana's trust.

Princess Diana, Princess of Wales, wearing Virgin Atlantic sweatshirt, leaves Chelsea Harbour Club, London in November, 1995
Princess Diana, Princess of Wales, wearing Virgin Atlantic sweatshirt, leaves Chelsea Harbour Club, London in November, 1995

Anwar Hussein/WireImage

Following the inquiry in May 2021, William made his emotional intervention, slamming the practices that led up to the making of the Panorama program in 1995.

William said the findings were "extremely concerning — that BBC employees: lied and used fake documents to obtain the interview with my mother; made lurid and false claims about the Royal Family which played on her fears and fuelled paranoia; displayed woeful incompetence when investigating complaints and concerns about the programme; and were evasive in their reporting to the media and covered up what they knew from their internal investigation."

"It is my view that the deceitful way the interview was obtained substantially influenced what my mother said," he continued. "The interview was a major contribution to making my parents' relationship worse and has since hurt countless others."

He concluded: "It is my firm view that this Panorama program holds no legitimacy and should never be aired again. It effectively established a false narrative which, for over a quarter of a century, has been commercialized by the BBC and others."

RELATED: BBC Launches Investigation Into Princess Diana's Panorama Interview After Claims of 'Dishonesty'

The Princess of Wales and Prince William stand and applaud in the Royal Box on Centre Court at Wimbledon, as Steffi Graf wins the Women's Singles Championship. (Photo by Rebecca Naden - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
The Princess of Wales and Prince William stand and applaud in the Royal Box on Centre Court at Wimbledon, as Steffi Graf wins the Women's Singles Championship. (Photo by Rebecca Naden - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)

Rebecca Naden/ PA Images via Getty Prince William and Princess Diana

Last month, the head of the BBC, director-general Tim Davie, apologized to Prince Charles and Prince Harry "for the way in which Princess Diana was deceived and the subsequent impact on all their lives," and vowed to never show it again.

"Now we know about the shocking way that the interview was obtained, I have decided that the BBC will never show the program again; nor will we license it in whole or part to other broadcasters," he added. That statement came as it made another payout to one of the victims of the interview, former royal nanny Tiggy Legge-Bourke (now Alexandra Pettifer). Others who have received payouts include a whistleblower and Diana's ex-private secretary Patrick Jephson.

In The Princess, Diana's story is told exclusively through archive footage and commentary. The producers watched an astonishing 1,000 hours of film to pull together the narrative, which explores Princess Diana's complex relationship with the media, from the early days of her romance with Prince Charles to their headline-making breakup and her tragic death 25 years ago at age 36.

Last week, the film's director Ed Perkins told PEOPLE, "Our intention was to create a film that first and foremost felt kind of emotionally-driven and immersive and that we would give audiences the space to kind of come to their own conclusions and bring their own hindsight to bear on this story."

Diana, Princess of Wales (1961 - 1997), Prince Charles and their son Prince William pose for a photocall in the garden of Kensington Palace, London, May 1984. (Photo by Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images)
Diana, Princess of Wales (1961 - 1997), Prince Charles and their son Prince William pose for a photocall in the garden of Kensington Palace, London, May 1984. (Photo by Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images)

Diana Archive/Getty Princess Diana, Prince William and Prince Charles

The story is both a "sensitive" and "complicated one," Perkins admitted and conceded it's "probably not a story that the royal family is desperate to continually revisit for obvious reasons."

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"I come out the other end of it actually feeling a lot more sympathetic towards the specific characters involved and the challenges that those roles that they are born into put upon them," the filmmaker said.

Ultimately, it's the story of a woman who spent half her life "as the most famous person in the world," Perkins said. "That's an extraordinary thing to even comprehend."