LONDON, UK (June 5, 2007) — Princess Diana’s sons have urged a British television channel not to use “deeply distressing” photographs of her fatal car crash in a documentary airing Wednesday, royal officials said.
Prince William and Prince Harry believe that using the photographs would be a “gross disrespect to their mother’s memory,” Clarence House announced Tuesday.
“If it were your or my mother dying in that tunnel, would we want the scene broadcast to the nation?” the princes’ private secretary, Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, said in a letter to Channel 4 television.
The channel said it would broadcast the images.
The documentary, “Diana: The Witness in the Tunnel,” is scheduled for broadcast on Wednesday. The princess and her friend Dodi Fayed died along with their chauffeur in a car crash in Paris on Aug. 31, 1997.
Channel 4 said some of the photographs were taken by professionals and others by passers-by. Noting that paparazzi were accused at the time of engaging in a high-speed chase and thereby contributing to the crash, Channel 4 said the documentary focuses on the photographers who were arrested on the night.
Clarence House said the princes decided to go public because Channel 4 had not responded to their letter.
“As of this morning, Clarence House had not received a reply from Channel 4,” a statement said.
“In publishing the letter, the princes reluctantly feel that they have been left no choice but to make it clear publicly that they believe the broadcast of these photographs to be wholly inappropriate, deeply distressing to them and to the relatives of the others who died that night, and a gross disrespect to their mother’s memory.”
Channel 4, reacting to criticism in the press, has defended the documentary as “a well-made and responsible documentary.”
“C4 has carefully and sensitively selected the pictures used in the program,” the company said.
“These photographs are an important and accurate eyewitness record of how events unfolded after the crash.
“We acknowledge that there is great public sensitivity surrounding pictures of the victims and these have not been included. Some photographs will be of the scene inside the tunnel but in none of the pictures is it possible to identify Diana or indeed any of the crash victims.
“We do not show, nor have we ever considered showing, Diana’s final moments.”
Lowther-Pinkerton, however, said the photos “are redolent with the atmosphere and tragedy of the closing moments of her life.”
“As such, they will cause the princes acute distress if they are shown to a public audience, not just for themselves, but also on their mother’s behalf, in the sense of intruding upon the privacy and dignity of her last minutes,” he wrote.