Princess Diana’s former private secretary DEFENDS Channel 4 documentary with unseen videos
PRINCESS Diana’s former private secretary Patrick Jephson has insisted Channel 4 is right to broadcast candid video tapes of her discussing her trouble marriage.
Mr Jephson, who spent eight years as her equerry and then private secretary until 1996, has defended the broadcaster after it came under sustained attack over Diana: In Her Own Words, a documentary to be aired ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Princess’s death in a Paris car crash.
The documentary features video tapes recorded by her voice coach, the actor Peter Settelen, as she honed her public speaking skills in 1992 and 1993 by speaking about her unhappy marriage.
In an article written for the Radio Times magazine, Mr Jephson said the tapes showed Diana to be articulate, realistic, modest and fun and that made for uncomfortable viewing for those inside the royal establishment who had tried to portray her as mentally ill.
Mr Jephson, who in the past few days has contrasted Diana’s authenticity with what he suggested was a PR spin campaign to make Camilla Queen when Charles becomes King, said the tapes showed Diana finding her voice to speak from the heart.
He said: “Bewitchingly, they reveal a thoughtful and often funny Princess finding her voice as the teller of her own story.”
“It was this rare ability to infuse her public speeches with disarming personal candour that made Diana such an effective communicator.
“One of the reasons we remember her, and still want to hear her voice, is that she spoke not with technical fluency but with an authenticity that came from the heart (or gut, if you prefer).
“Her audiences instinctively recognised that what she was telling them owed far more to her own emotions and experience than to the efforts of her speechwriters.”
Comparing his former boss to the fiery women chieftain who led a revolt by ancient Britons against Roman occupation in around AD60, he recalled that Diana could often be difficult to work with.
He said: “On a bad day – and luckily they were few – you’d think Boudicca with a headache might be an easier boss.
“But guess what? She had every reason to be angry, trapped with the knowledge that her husband loved another woman.”
The tapes have previously been aired in a US documentary in 2004 but have never been shown on British television.
Mr Jephson said: “At a time when, to their great credit, both her children are encouraging us to remember their mother in a positive light, this film is a well-timed, well-made and well-intentioned addition to the standard anniversary menu.
“And if it takes a little longer to digest, at least it won’t have you reaching for the sick bag.”