‘Could hear axes grinding’ BBC royal expert recalls ‘treachery’ moment in Diana interview


    Former royal journalist Michael Cole recalled his time as a BBC correspondent and looked at the Princess Diana interview with Martin Bashir. Mr Cole looked at the revelations made during the interview and said while they were “sensational” it was Princess Diana’s admission Prince Charles would struggle as king which caught his attention. The royal expert explained in medieval England that would amount to “treachery” which would follow severe punishments as he dissected the interview’s key points. 

    Speaking on talkRADIO, Mr Cole discussed the recent inquiry which found the BBC used “deceit” to secure their interview with Princess Diana. 

    Mr Cole gave his thoughts on the interview and his former employer.

    He told the station: “After that BBC interview went out, the Queen could see that there was no way ahead except by divorce.

    “Of course we all know the stuff about there were three people in this marriage, I want to be the queen of people’s hearts and all about James Hewitt and the fact she was in love with him.

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    “That’s fine, that was sensational, but the moment when the hairs were on the back of my neck and I thought oh my goodness what she’d done was when she said in the clearest terms my husband, Prince Charles, it’s not fit to be king.

    “And she even raised the possibility that he didn’t want to be king.

    “Now at that moment, in an earlier age three or four centuries ago, that would have been called treachery.

    “And when I heard her say that I could sort of hear the axes being sharpened in the background and I was so concerned because it was very, very serious stuff.”

    Mr Cole also explained he could not believe how the reputation of the BBC was rested on an “almost unknown reporter” as Martin Bashir was a relatively rookie journalist at the time. 

    Princess Diana was asked during the Panorama interview if Prince Charles would become king 

    She said: “I don’t think any of us know the answer to that.

    “And obviously it’s a question that’s in everybody’s head but who knows, who knows what fate will produce, who knows what circumstances will provoke?”


    She continued: “There was always conflict on that subject with him when we discussed it and I understood that conflict, because it’s a very demanding role, being Prince of Wales, but it’s an equally more demanding role being King.”

    An independent inquiry found journalist Martin Bashir and the BBC used “deceit” to secure their interview with Princess Diana. 

    It was revealed Mr Bashir created fake bank statements which showed Buckingham Palace courtiers being paid by newspapers for stories. 

    The documents were used to win the trust of Charles Spencer, Diana’s brother, who introduced the princess to Mr Bashir. 

    The BBC now faces tough threats to its future as an upcoming review of its Royal Charter is set to see major changes to the corporation. 

    Home Secretary Priti Patel warned there were reforms coming in the review at the beginning of 2022 and said the broadcaster needed to win back the “trust and confidence” of the public. 


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