'Shameful' or 'important'? Controversial Diana doc airs in Britain

The controversial documentary Diana: In her Own Words has left many people, including some who knew the late Princess of Wales personally, ethically and emotionally conflicted after its airing Sunday in Britain.

The film includes private on-camera recordings of Diana — shown in the U.S. before but never broadcast in Britain — that were taken by her voice coach, Peter Settlelen, during meetings at Kensington Palace between 1992 and 1993.

In the recordings, Diana, who died in a car crash in Paris on Aug. 31, 1997, discusses personal problems, including her engagement, marriage and sex life with husband Prince Charles.

“It is Diana talking about issues in her life,” Ken Wharfe, Diana’s protection officer between 1986 and1994, told CBC News Network on Sunday from London.

Wharfe also appears in the documentary.

“I think historically, it places in context all that’s been said over the years,” he said. “So there’s nothing new but we see something in context here that actually brings relevance to this story.”

Conflicted over broadcast

But many on social media questioned the decision to broadcast the tapes. Some of them had seen the show.

“Don’t agree with this being aired, at the same time I can’t help but watch. Such a contradiction,” wrote one viewer.

Others suggested Diana wouldn’t have agreed to the recordings if she didn’t want her voice heard.

‘Trust violation’

One public speaking coach, Toronto-based Jeff Ansell, said that while video recordings are standard practice in his line of work, there is an assumption they will be kept private.

‘Her public speaking coach broke that trust and it’s shameful.’– Jeff Ansell, Toronto-based public speaking coach

“Never would I consider sharing the videos with the outside world. It would be a tremendous trust violation.”

He said it’s highly likely Diana was working on the assumption that the recordings would never be seen by those not entitled to view it.

“Her public speaking coach broke that trust and it’s shameful,” said Ansell. “The voice on these tapes is Diana’s private voice. I agree that to broadcast these recordings now, truly is exploitative.”

‘I think what people would take from this film will be the honesty.’-Ken Wharfe, Diana’s former bodyguard who is featured in film

Efforts were reportedly made to stop Diana: In her Own Words from airing, by one of Diana’s longtime friends and her brother, Earl Spencer.​

Wharfe, who himself wrote a book published in 2016 about his time with Diana, says Diana: In her Own Words isn’t meant to exploit, but to highlight her role and life before she died.

“I think what people would take from this film will be the honesty and the problems that beset her marriage and realize that, actually, it wasn’t Diana’s fault,” said Wharfe.​

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