Revealed: Diana the philosopher

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The Independent Online
On Monday, the Princess of Wales is due to appear on Panorama and talk about everything. Well, there is one thing she will not be talking about. She will not be talking about the Panorama interview. That is because she has already talked to us about that. Here is the interview I was gracious enough to accept from her recently.

Now, your Highness (if I may call you that), there is a sense in which the fact of this interview is more important than anything in the interview itself, is it not?

I am afraid you will have to explain that to me. You see, I am just a silly empty-headed Sloane deep down, and I don't understand abstract concepts.

Is that really true?

It's what everyone believes, which comes to the same thing. I've been told it so often I almost believe it myself. Was it not Hegel who said perceived truth and objective truth sometimes change places in the night?

I've no idea. Hegel?

You have heard of Hegel?

Strewth, this interview is going to be harder work than I realised.

Do you want to start again? Cut? Go for another take?

You seem to know the jargon.

Look, I went into training for my Panorama interview four weeks before it happened. And I don't mean physical training. Everyone knows I work out at the gym to keep in physical trim. It doesn't seem to occur to them I might do the same intellectually. Seems unlikely? But every time I do an interview I go into intellectual training.

But you have never done an interview like this before.

I have never trained like this before. What was the question?

I think I said, there is a sense in which the fact of this interview is more important than anything in the interview itself, is it not?

Was it not Oscar Wilde who said the value of the telephone was merely the value of what two people have to say to each other? Lord knows what he would have thought of the Internet.

Are you sure you are Diana? Have I come to the right palace?

To answer your question, yes, the fact of the interview is more important than anything I might say in it. Do you remember the interview between Prince Charles and Jonathan Dimbleby which started all this off?

I remember Dimbleby and the prince sitting with an empty seat between them as if waiting for the opposition spokesman to turn up. I distinctly remember one of them saying they had committed adultery with Camilla Parker Bowles. I can't remember much more.

My feelings exactly. People remembered much more about the interview as an event than as an exchange or expression of ideas. I learnt from that. I learnt this could be stage-managed as an event before it even happened. Hence the fuss with the palace, and the prince's birthday, and the secrecy of the recording. The most important thing about this interview is the fact that I reserved the right to tell the palace.

But surely, if you told the palace you were going to do an interview on the BBC next week, they would fear the worst?

That was the whole idea. They do fear the worst. You saw all the headlines: "Palace fury"; "Prince goes bananas on birthday"; "Queen hits the ceiling". None of this is because of what I have said. They don't know what I have said. It is only because I have said it and I didn't forewarn them. Do you think Charles asked my permission to talk to Dimbleby?

I would guess not.

I should coco. So, do you know what the most important thing about the interview is ?

Er - no.

The most important thing about the interview is that even if it never goes out on the BBC on Monday, I have already gained as much favourable publicity from it as I possibly can. More, perhaps. Indeed, you could say that even if the interview never existed, I have got as much publicity out of it as possible. There is no need for it to go out now.

But it does exist.

How do you know? The one thing that has come out of all this is that no one at Panorama knew it existed. No one at the palace knew about it. No one on my staff knew about it. It is almost impossible to keep anything that secret - unless it doesn't exist.

But it has to go out on Monday, so it must exist.

Not necessarily. Maybe the screening will be cancelled. Maybe, in return for that, the palace will give in to all my demands. Maybe I will get all I want and then reluctantly ask Panorama not to show a film - which never existed.

But, your Highness, you are not clever enough to think of an idea like that, are you?

You may very well think that. I couldn't possibly comment.

My God - you've been watching Francis Urquhart.

The very man on whom I now model all my actions.

(More of this fascinating interview tomorrow, unless something more interesting turns up.)

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