MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Princess Diana’s former bodyguard has defended a new British documentary which contains recordings of the late Princess candidly discussing her personal life.
Former royal protection officer Ken Wharfe is a contributor to the film, “Diana: In Her Own Words” and provides a commentary on the recordings. He worked for the Princess between 1986 and 1994.
Some royal watchers have called the program, to be broadcast on Britain’s Channel 4 on Sunday, August 6, a betrayal of the late princess’ privacy, but Wharfe disagrees.
“The only people that can say it’s shocking are those that have not seen it. I don’t think it is shocking. I really do not. I would not have involved myself with a film that is shocking,” he says. “I think it’s very insightful. I think it tells us something about Diana that, because we’re seeing her for the first time, is actually delightful.”
Channel 4 said the video tapes, made in the early 1990s, are an “important historical source” and place Diana “front and center” in her own story as Britain marks 20 years since her unexpected death.
Wharfe also says he believes the Royal Family will watch the film.
“If you’re under the impression that the Royal Family don’t watch television or read papers or magazines, then you’re fooled, because they do, and they will read it, and they will see it, and they will watch this documentary. And what they’ll see, and what William and Harry will see – they’ll identify exactly what they said in their documentary less than a week ago, about a caring mother; somebody that was fun; someone that was entertaining; somebody that was a real good person to be with, because this is what this film tells us.”
The channel said that although 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.”
Diana Spencer married Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, in 1981 and the couple had two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry. They separated in 1992 and divorced in 1996, the year before Diana died in a car crash in Paris, aged 36.
The recordings of Diana talking to voice coach Peter Settelen were made at the princess’ Kensington Palace residence, and include discussion of her failing marriage and Charles’ relationship with his then-mistress Camilla Parker Bowles. Charles and Camilla went on to marry in 2005.
Rosa Monckton, a friend of Diana, said broadcasting the tapes was “a betrayal of her privacy and of the family’s privacy.”
Former royal spokesman Dickie Arbiter told Sky News it was “absolutely shameful” that the tapes were being broadcast, saying Diana’s family would find it “very hurtful.”
But Wharfe, who has written a book about his experiences with the Royal Family, says he believes Diana would have loved the documentary.
“I’ll tell you what she would think: she would love it. For the first time, she would say, ‘Actually people now are actually listening to and hearing what I’m saying.’ That was part of the problem: you know, Diana had tried desperately throughout her troubled marriage to try and resolve the issues.”
Settelen made the recordings at a low point in Diana’s life, after she had rocked the royal family by cooperating on a biography that went public with her unhappiness and the failure of her marriage.
The 20 videotapes were held by police after they were seized from ex-royal butler Paul Burrell’s home in 2001 during an investigation of alleged theft from the late princess.
The theft case was later abandoned and Diana’s family tried to make a legal claim to the recordings, but they were returned to Settelen in 2004.
Portions of the recordings were broadcast by U.S. network NBC in 2004, but they have never been shown in Britain.
William and Harry’s Kensington Palace office declined to comment on the documentary. As the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death on Aug. 31, 1997 approaches, the princes have spoken publicly for the first time about their mother and the pain of losing her.