Sunday, 28 June 2015

Royal Rewind: Prince Charles & Princess Diana's Candid 1985 Interview

Many will be familiar with adorable images of Prince William and Prince Harry taken in 1985 at Kensington Palace.

A fact I was unaware of - the family photos coincided with a surprisingly candid interview which saw veteran newsreader Sir Alistair Burnet discuss an array of topics in the drawing room in a no holds barred interview.

As the interview began, Diana was asked about William going to school and if she was felt sad on his first day; "I was. It's opening another chapter in my life and certainly William's but he's ready for it he's a very independent child and he's surrounded by a tremendous amount of grown ups so his conversation is very forthright."

Other questions included: "Have you actually tried to change Prince Charles since you married?" "Would you say you had may common interests, many mutual friends?" "Do you have any sense of living in a state of rivalry with Princess Anne?" "How much time do you have to give to your clothes?" It's was quite extraordinary, and could you possibly imagine the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, or the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in such an interview today?

Charles was frank on a number of topics, including his views on vegetarianism and his thoughts on his wife's wardrobe: "One of the things I always noticed about her before we got married, I thought was, she had a very good sense of style. She's always dressed very well I think."

When asked if they had disagreements, Charles's reply sparked a rather ironic exchange. "I suspect most husband and wives often have arguments," the Prince said, to which Diana replied, "But we don't". "Occasionally we do," Charles added, but Diana continued, "No, we don't". Of course we now know all was not well in the Wales marriage, and at times it showed the couple were not on the same page.

One aspect I particularly enjoyed was seeing both Charles and Diana interact with the boys as photographs were being taken. There's a very endearing moment where Charles places Harry on William's shoulders, and the boisterous prince calls to his nanny, "Barbara, look". There are lovely moments where we see Diana sitting on the floor with her sons, too.

The Prince and Princess encouraged their sons to play "louder, louder" on the piano.

You can watch the interview in full on YouTube.

It's an immensely enjoyable watch for royal watchers who may have been fans of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, and equally so for younger royal watchers who may have grown up reading endless stories about the couple. It's a unique interview, which I felt gave a rather interesting insight into their characters and personalities.

Did you enjoy it?


  1. Tammy from California29 June 2015 at 16:30

    Oh wow. What a video.
    I have now seen two videos of Prince Charles that surprised me. They surprised me because he has always gotten terrible press and what I saw was a very loving father who took time with his children. In the other video I watched, they were at Balmoral playing Hide-And-Go-Seek and he was very fun and loving to his children. I also want to say that people in the 80's criticized him for "talking to his plants" and other such things, but if you listen to what he was describing (in the two videos I watched, anyway) he is talking about Sustainable Homesteading which is a very practical way of living because we are in a shortage of natural resources like water (at least here in California). I always loved Diana, very much, and found it interesting that Charles made such a wonderful impression on me. Instead of "his" fault, I really saw two wonderful people who just weren't happy together. What a difference in William and Kate's relationship to Charles and Diana's! Even down to their memories of what should have been one of the happiest days of their lives: their wedding day.

    I also noticed that William has the same movement of his chin, when he is telling a joke or being funny, that he must have gotten from his father ;)

    Lastly, I think they were very patient and gave a lot of themselves to a difficult interview. No one would be so giving today.

  2. I really enjoyed the video and your comments regarding whether or not they ever argued. How sweet of Princess Diana to try and keep up appearances. She would have done anything to please him, but she couldn’t do enough. While Princess Diana makes every attempt to seem a happy wife, Charles seems detached and describes the happiness of the wedding in terms of planning everything. While she continues to look at him, smiling, he seems to be like a deer in headlights. He knew quite well what he was up to prior to the wedding (with Camilla) and during the marriage. I think that he thought by marrying a young girl, he could have his cake and eat it too, and Princess Diana would never leave him in a million years, due to him being such a good catch. He was simply wrong.

    1. Actually, she didn't leave him. I think she liked the idea of separate lives, but she did not want a divorce.

    2. True, Diana didn't "leave him" as in initiate a divorce, but she didn't go along with the program (and I do believe he assumed she did the current wife).

  3. What I found most disturbing--even offensive--about this interview was its tone. Instead of the interviewer using the opportunity to take a genuine and heartfelt interest in their causes and their lives, Charles and Diana were put on the defensive and required to justify their interests and their actions. The interviewer seemed to think that he as the press was entitled to it, even had the right to demand it of them no matter how invasive or trivial the questions.

    Yes, Charles has always got dreadful press. However, he is engaged, open-minded and forthright with forward-thinking ideas. He would have made an excellent King. I never understood why he wasn't popular.

    Unfortunately, Charles didn't get the opportunity to assume the throne when he was young and handsome as he is in this scene. What if HM had ascended to the throne in her 70s instead of a youthful 25 coupled with the tragic early death of her father? Quite likely she wouldn't have the same public support or have been able to make her mark in history as she has. Charles is not going to get the chance to reign long. With his lack of popularity trumped by Camilla's and their age going in, the future of the monarchy might be a hard sell.

  4. I remember this video and how very bittersweet it was to watch it again just now. IMO it was an attempt at damage control as most, if not all, of the questions posed had to do with rumors reported in the press or other controversial subjects. And when the question of do they argue or not came up, I noticed that Diana tried to take the lead and not allow it to become another "whatever love means" moment.

  5. P.S. ... Nottingham Cottage is visible from the window next to the piano.

  6. Julia from Leominster30 June 2015 at 06:18

    I remember watching that interview -admiring the beauty of the flat - wondering about a life where there could be young boys and yet so many beautiful things about (this was a time when my friends' young lads were breaking everything.) I noticed the royal couple seemed a little tense to start with but thought no more of it. I remember reading something afterwards about how the body language of the couple was very distant - by a supposed expert in such matters - but didn't take it seriously - it seemed as silly as the ouju board and Lord Mountbattan business.

    Now of course it is easy to see how tense Diana is and how remote Charles is - until he gets interested in subjects that matter to him when the conversation livens. I imagine they felt very safe talking to Alastair Burnet - such a gentleman - I loved him and when photographs like Tim Graham and Jayne Fletcher were trusted enough to both cover engagements and do photo shoots too. The scenes with the boys are delightful. The quality of photos was more appealing and much better than what we get of George today so far.

    I noticed now too that Diana's affection for Charles was so much greater than his for her and how sad she seemed in th interview - and how much more spirited she was iwhen shown on her engagments. Hubby said watching it of Charles "what a cold fish" and so he seemed - I laughed about the bit of Diana keeping him young - Camilla has made him into a truly old codger now - aged before his time.

    There were remarkablely personal questions - Diana's fear at the wedding - and Charles remote distance from it - he showed no interest in speaking about the boys either. Poor Diana - having to talk about her clothes - that did seem going too far - but I think the interview was meant to clear a lot of subjects where the press nonsense was troubling the couple and bring attention back to their work before the second Australian tour -

    But it's so funny there was all this gossip about small matters like how domineering Diana was (I don't remember that gossip) and lack of mutual interests (and I read later that Diana truly did love classical music) but the elephant in that grand sitting room went mostly undetected at the time.

  7. God I miss Diana may she rest in peace. She was done so wrong in her life by Charles and so many.

  8. I agree with you Mellie, and what a force of joy and life she would have been in her grandchildren's life. It's quite heartbreaking.

    With regards to body language that you mention Julia, while we can now look back with the benefit of hindsight, what struck me was there was no physical contact but physical distance between them - sitting far apart and Diana looking at Charles more often than he does.

    I somehow can't imagine William and Kate opening up to an interview like this, not because they couldn't handle it with aplomb, but because of William's understandable mistrust of the media and wanting to keep their private life private.

    Fiona in Australia

  9. I remember this interview as well, but I've always thought the 'no we don't' 'yes we do' thing was a pun on the subject matter i.e. a joke about not arguing. I recall laughing. This interview was all about keeping up appearances at the time. There is no way their minders would have allowed this to air if it was a real argument.


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