Princess Diana 'sex life' recordings extracts to be broadcast on British TV for first time, in Channel 4 show

Extracts from the video tapes will be broadcast for the first time on British television, with Channel 4 saying they represent 'an important historical archive'.

Adam Lusher
Tuesday 25 July 2017 14:57
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Channel 4 has yet to say whether or not it will broadcast sections of the recordings where Diana recalled her sex life with Prince Charles
Channel 4 has yet to say whether or not it will broadcast sections of the recordings where Diana recalled her sex life with Prince Charles

Extracts from a series of video recordings during which Princess Diana discussed her sex life with Prince Charles are to be broadcast on British television for the first time.

Channel 4 has acquired access to videotapes made at Kensington Palace in 1992 and 1993, in which Diana discussed intimate details of her personal life with her voice coach, the UK-based American actor Peter Settelen.

The contents of the tapes – described as “dynamite” by one TV producer – are so sensitive they have never before been broadcast on British television.

But now Channel 4 is planning to make them the central part of a feature-length documentary, Diana: In Her Own Words, to be broadcast in early August.

The channel is so far refusing to say whether or not it will broadcast the parts of the videotaped confessions where Princess Diana discussed her sex life.

But it is known that among the 21 hours of footage recorded during Mr Settelen’s voice coaching sessions were times in which Diana was remarkably open about her sexual relationship with Prince Charles.

Extracts were broadcast in America by NBC in 2004 and showed Diana saying: “It was odd. Very odd. But there was [a sexual relationship] - it was there, and then it fizzled out about seven years ago.

“Instinct told me, it was just so odd. There was never a requirement for it from his case. Sort of a once every three weeks … and I kept thinking...and then I followed a pattern. He used to see his lady [Camilla, now Duchess of Cornwall and the Prince Charles’ second wife] once every three weeks before we got married.”

The NBC broadcast caused such controversy that the BBC later shelved plans for a documentary showing British viewers extracts from the tapes in 2007.

Mr Settelen acknowledged that the Diana never meant the videoed conversations to become public, and ahead of the 2004 NBC broadcast, a “royal source” was quoted by the Telegraph as saying: "No matter how the publishers and the documentary makers present this, it will obviously be upsetting to the Princess of Wales' children and Prince Charles."

But a Channel 4 spokeswoman told The Independent the video tapes were “an important historical archive to which we have been fortunate to gain access”.

Refusing to disclose whether or not British TV viewers would for the first time see the sections where Diana discussed her sex life, she said: “In terms of the specifics of what we are broadcasting, we are just not disclosing that yet. We will do that nearer transmission.”

She added that the Channel 4 documentary would include extracts from the video tapes that were not broadcast by NBC and have therefore never before been shown on TV anywhere in the world.

The spokeswoman said: “At a time when everybody is going to be reflecting on her [Diana’s] life and the approaching 20th anniversary of her death, we feel it is important to hear from her directly, and we are placing her voice front and centre.

“Everything we are airing is carefully contextualised, placed within a historical framework, supported by interviews with those who were closest to her.”

The controversial videotapes were recorded on a camcorder during the 16 months Mr Settelen spent as Princess Diana’s voice coach, helping her overcome her shyness and improve her public speaking.

Mr Settelen, 65, who played Sandy Hardcastle in the 1979 ITV series Flambards, told NBC in 2004 that after the first voice coaching session in 1992: “I said, 'Look, I want to bring a camera. I want you to see you, and we will do your story, you will tell me your story, and then you can watch.

“Because in a way it does show you who you are. If somebody can draw you out and take you to the best of you, and you then see it, it reaffirms, 'Yes, that is me, it's okay to be me.'”

The resulting 20 video tapes were made at a time when Diana had already secretly talked to biographer Andrew Morton who first revealed the problems in her marriage, but before her 1995 Panorama interview in which she publicly declared: “There were three of us in this marriage.”

Much of the footage recorded during Mr Settelen’s voice coaching sessions consists of Diana doing voice exercises, but some of it shows her speaking freely about her personal life.

As was shown on NBC in 2004, she said she and Charles met only 13 times before they married.

“He wasn't consistent with his courting abilities,” Diana said. “He'd ring me up every day for a week, and then he wouldn't speak to me for three weeks. Very odd. And I accepted that. I thought ‘Fine. Well, he knows where I am if he wants me’. And then the thrill when he used to ring up was so immense and intense.”

Diana also recalled how she confronted Charles over his adultery with Camilla.

She told Mr Settelen: “I remember saying to my husband, ‘Why, why is this lady around?’ And he said, ‘Well, I refuse to be the only Prince of Wales who never had a mistress."

The NBC documentary also showed Diana mocking Charles’ initial fumbling attempts at courtship, which were prompted by her showing sympathy towards him about the death of his beloved "Uncle" Dickie, Lord Mountbatten.

The recordings became the subject of a lengthy legal dispute after they were seized in 2001 by police searching the loft of Diana’s former butler Paul Burrell, who would later be cleared of all charges of theft from the Royal Family after the Queen confirmed his innocence.

The executors of Diana’s estate, led by her brother Earl Spencer, claimed the tapes belonged to them. Mr Settelen insisted he was the lawful owner.

The Metropolitan Police Service – which had retained the tapes in its safekeeping – eventually asked the High Court to decide who owned the material, reportedly raising the prospect of the videos being shown in court.

Then in July 2004 Diana’s executors and Mr Settelen “came to an agreement on ownership".

After rights to use some of the footage in the tapes were sold to NBC for an undisclosed sum, Mr Settelen was asked by an interviewer from the network: “Why are you now releasing this tape with this interview and profiting from it?”

Mr Settelen replied: “I don't want to denigrate Diana. I'm trying to give the public an opportunity finally, finally, [to] see for yourself, because … people are spoiling, not just the work that I did with her but using it again to kind of diminish her, and I don't think that's right.”

He told NBC “a substantial amount” of the money he received from the sale of the tapes would go to paying his lawyers, adding: “Some of it will go to look after a child that we adopted from Russia, and some of it will go to charities that I care about. And some of it will help me live, because over the last few years what they [his opponents] have done has affected my ability to earn a living.”

The Channel 4 documentary was reportedly made by Kevin Sim, the freelance producer and director who made the shelved BBC film.

He was previously quoted as saying the tapes were “dynamite” and the BBC shelved the 2007 documentary because it feared upsetting the monarchy.

Royal spokespeople declined to comment to The Independent.

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