Following the breakdown of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's marriage, the 'War of the Wales' – as recreated in the fourth and fifth seasons of The Crown – was played out on the front pages of British newspapers.


First there were the revelations taken from Andrew Morton's 1992 book Diana: Her True Story followed by leaked telephone conversations in 1992 and 1993 that scandalised the world as they revealed Diana's close friendship with James Gilbey in the so-called 'Squidgygate' tape, and Charles' affair and love for Camilla Parker Bowles in the 'Camillagate' or 'Tampongate' tape a few months later.

By the end of 1992, Prime Minister John Major had announced the couple had formally separated and Prince Charles maintained silence about the breakdown of his marriage and his affair with Mrs Parker Bowles.

However, he finally spoke out more than 18 months later in a TV interview with Jonathan Dimbleby that The Guardian later said "stunned the nation" and is widely thought to have led to Princess Diana's even more explosive Panorama interview the following year.

So what did Prince Charles actually talk about, and can you watch the interview today?

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What did Charles say in the Jonathan Dimbleby interview?

Prince Charles' interview with Jonathan Dimbleby was broadcast on ITV on 29th June, 1994.

Entitled Charles: The Private Man, The Public Role, the two and a half hour documentary was made to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Charles’ investiture as the Prince of Wales, and was filmed over the course of two years, with 180 hours of footage recorded. According to The Times, that meant "a whacking 177 ½ hours of the 180 shot" of the film would have to be held under tight security so no one could use it at a later date (it is believed to be held at Windsor Castle, presumably in a locked and heavily bolted hidden vault).

Dominic West as Prince Charles in The Crown.
Dominic West as Prince Charles in The Crown. Netflix

More than 13 million people tuned in to watch the future king talk about his children and his faith, his views on architecture, and thoughts that Britain should introduce some form of national or community service.

However, it was his comments on the breakdown of his marriage, and the charges of adultery that had been made against him in the press that made viewers sit up in their seats, as Dimbleby asked His Royal Highness the question everyone had been dying to ask.

Jonathan Dimbleby asked Prince Charles if he had been "faithful and honourable" to Princess Diana, to which he replied "Yes," before pausing and then adding "Until [the marriage] became irretrievably broken down, us both having tried."

Talking about the marriage, Charles also said that its failure "is the last possible thing that I ever wanted. I mean, I’m not a total idiot… It's not something that I went into, marriage, you know, with the intention of this happening, or in any way in a cynical frame of mind… I have always tried to get it right and tried to do the right thing by everybody."

Charles and Camilla in a field of grass in The Crown season 5
Dominic West as Charles and Olivia Williams as Camilla in The Crown. Netflix

While Charles did say that Camilla Parker Bowles was "a dear friend" and a "great friend of mine" in the interview, it was not until the day after the documentary was broadcast that Richard Aylard, the Prince of Wales’ private secretary, confirmed at a press conference that the woman in question with whom Charles was having an affair was, indeed, Camilla.

What happened after the broadcast?

As you can imagine, fans of Princess Diana were incensed by Charles's confession, and newspaper columnists commented that it had done nothing to improve the future king's image with the public. A telephone poll for The Sun found that two thirds of those who phoned in believed Charles was no longer fit to rule.

Meanwhile, Alan Hamilton in The Times wrote that: "Nine-tenths of Jonathan Dimbleby's documentary… was an earnest examination of the man's boundless, but not always riveting, good works. The jewel, when revealed, was set amid great cushions of sympathetic padding: he had committed adultery with Camilla Parker Bowles."

"The disclosure was not in itself a shock, for the tabloids had been raking the coals for months beforehand; yet it was a shock to hear it from his own lips, and a shock that he should choose such a public platform as his confessional."

In The Times' view, "the ploy undoubtedly worked: the programme was well received, and the Prince attracted far more sympathy than opprobrium for what viewers saw as his decision to be honest."

Allison Pearson at The Independent, meanwhile, wrote that the documentary was "both privileged and self-indulgent, the very qualities it strove to play down in its subject."

Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana and Dominic West as Prince Charles in The Crown.
Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana and Dominic West as Prince Charles in The Crown. Netflix

Dimbleby also commented on his own documentary – and that question to Prince Charles – after it aired, in an interview with Valerie Gove in The Times. "If I had not asked it, we would have been pilloried and he could have said, 'that's my business' – as I would have said."

He added: "I think what comes through is a man speaking the truth – his face, his body language, his anguish and his good humour. What most surprised me was his wit, as when the little kid in the Gulf asked 'who are you?' and he said, 'I wish I knew.' I think we showed how he operates, his hard work and his dedication, so people can judge him without the speculation and illusion that passes for journalism."

How can I watch Charles: The Private Man, The Public Role?

The documentary was originally broadcast by ITV but it is sadly not available on ITV Hub.

Parts of the interview are available to watch on YouTube.

The Crown seasons 1-5 are available to stream now on Netflix. Sign up for Netflix from £6.99 a month. Netflix is also available on Sky Glass and Virgin Media Stream.

Looking for something else to watch? Visit our TV Guide or Streaming Guide.


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