“Diana: In Her Own Words” will go out on Channel 4 and as “Diana – Her Story” on PBS in their respective countries in August, ahead of the 20th anniversary of her death. It will center on videotapes of the princess recorded at Kensington Palace by her speech coach, Peter Settelen, as he helped her prepare to publicly present her account of her life and marriage to Prince Charles. Some of the video has been seen in the US but it has never gone out in the U.K.
In the recordings, Diana reflects on her early life, her relationship with the Prince of Wales, and life in the public eye. The filmmakers say the tapes are the only known unmediated video ever recorded with Diana.
There is also footage of Diana rehearsing as she sought to reinvent her public persona and prepared to make the recordings for Andrew Morton’s book about her, and to speak in her famous “Panorama” interview with Martin Bashir in which she said “there were three of us” in her marriage to Charles, an allusion to his longtime love (and now current wife) Camilla Parker-Bowles.
As well as footage of the princess, there are interviews with friends and associates such as her personal protection officer Ken Wharfe, private secretary Patrick Jephson, and ballet teacher Anne Allan.
London-based independent Kaboom Film & TV has produced the feature documentary, which was directed by Kevin Sim (“Once Upon a Time in Iran”) and executive produced by Charles Furneaux (“Touching the Void”).
Ralph Lee, Channel 4’s deputy chief creative officer & head of factual, who commissioned the film, said: “The tapes, which show a relaxed and off-duty Diana, are hugely illuminating about her personality, humor and charm. Combined with historical context and interviews with her closest confidants, this film provides a nuanced, multilayered portrait of the most famous woman in the world and a mother who has shaped the future line of the royal family.”
Princess Diana has been the subject of numerous documentaries and scripted projects since her death in 1997. Earlier this year the BBC commissioned one-off drama “Diana & I,” from BAFTA-winning writer Jeremy Brock and Oscar-nominated director Peter Cattaneo.
ITV, meanwhile, has “Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy,” which features the princess’ sons, William and Harry, talking about their mother. HBO has taken the U.S. rights and, like ITV, will transmit it Monday evening.