A U.K. documentary is airing private audio tapes of Princess Diana, causing an uproar in the country.


The 1992 audio from sessions with her voice coach Peter Settelen will be aired for the first time in the United Kingdom in an upcoming documentary about the People’s Princess’ life. The recordings have not been introduced to the U.K. public due to privacy concerns, with many believing that the tapes should be kept just to the family.

Following Diana’s death in 1996,  the audio was deemed to belong to Settelen. In 2004, the voice coach sold the tapes in the U.S., but not in the U.K. following objections on privacy grounds. Now the tapes will be aired in Diana: In Her Own Words on Channel 4 in the U.K. and PBS in the U.S.

Diana died in a car accident in Paris 20 years ago. She was 36 at the time. Her children, Prince William and Prince Harry are now 35 and 32. Called the People’s Princess for here common touch, Diana wed Prince Charles in 1981 and they were divorced in 1996. “We met 13 times and we got married,” Diana says on the tapes, as heard in the trailer for the new doc. “I was brought up in sense that when you got engaged to someone you loved them.”


A week of entertainment news in your in-box.
We find the news you need to know, so you don't have to.

Many still believe that the tapes should be returned to Diana’s family. Her brother, Lord Charles Spencer, claimed such in court, but lost a lengthy legal battle, ending in Settelen retaining possession of the tapes.

“The fact is that after Diana’s death, the claim to privacy actually failed,” Marcus Rutherford told the BBC. “Because the police looked at them, the Spencer family looked at them, presumably, so what was private to Diana was actually lost in the process.”

Channel 4, which will air the segment, released a statement claiming that the tapes serve as “an important historical source.” “The excerpts from the tapes recorded with Peter Settelen have never been shown before on British television and are an important historical source,” the statement reads. “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 interview for Panorama… This unique portrait of Diana gives her a voice and places it front and center at a time when the nation will be reflecting on her life and death.”

Princes William and Harry have not commented publicly on the decision to air the tapes. Prior to the doc’s release, William made a statement about the 20th anniversary of his mother’s death. “We won’t be doing this again. We won’t speak as openly or publicly about her again, because we feel hopefully this film will provide the other side from close family friends you might not have heard before, from those who knew her best and from those who want to protect her memory, and want to remind people of the person that she was,” he said on his and Harry’s behalf. “Twenty years on, Harry and I felt that it was an appropriate time to open up a bit more about our mother.”

In addition, William explained that Diana was a private person, and tried her best to balance her royal life and family life with her children. “My mother cherished those moments of privacy and being able to be that mother rather than the Princess of Wales,” said William, now a father of two young children. “She was very jolly and she really always enjoyed her times making a lot of mischief, but she always understood that there was a real life outside of the palace walls.”

Leave a comment

Read more about: