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Princess Diana tapes: What did TV critics make of controversial documentary?

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A controversial documentary about Princess Diana, featuring private video footage of her speaking to her voice coach, has aired on TV.

The programme shows the late princess in the early 1990s talking candidly about her upbringing, her relationship with Prince Charles, including their troubled marriage, and her public life.

The use of the tapes in Channel 4's Diana: In Her Own Words had already been strongly criticised by royal watchers before the broadcast.

Rosa Monckton, one of Diana's closest friends, said showing the tapes was "intrusive", while royal author Penny Junor said she could not see "any justification" for airing them.

Princess Diana's brother Earl Spencer had reportedly pleaded with Channel 4 not to broadcast them, for fear of the distress it would cause Princes William and Harry.

But Channel 4 said it gave the Princess a voice and placed it "front and centre" in the run-up to the 20th anniversary of her death in a car crash in Paris on August 31, 1997.

The documentary has divided opinion among TV critics with reviews ranging from "trashy" to "heartbreaking".

Writing in the Daily Mail, Jan Moir said she thinks Diana would have approved of the tapes being aired and that they show her in a "golden light".

She wrote: "Actually, I think that Diana would love these videotaped sessions from 1992 being broadcast. Adore it! For the recordings show her in a golden light; rueful, amused, heartbreakingly vivacious and beautiful, noble in her obvious loneliness."

But she added: "There is something heartbreaking all over again in seeing those familiar images; especially that footage of a beautiful girl in a golden carriage, riding off to her doom."

Writing for the Guardian, Mark Lawson said: "The film is also manipulative, scored with a gloomy flute constantly telling the audience how moved to be. The editing is slick, but also often sly."

Andrew Billen gave the programme two stars out of five in The Times, and wrote in his review: "Diana: In Her Own Words was pretentious and trashy.

"But within it wronged Diana, in her sweetness and confusion, lived again. If you could forgive the attendant ickiness, that apparition was worth gazing upon."

The footage, which was recorded on a camcorder at Kensington Palace in 1992/93 by Diana's speech coach, former Coronation Street actor Peter Settelen, contains deeply personal revelations.

The tapes have been broadcast before - by US network NBC in 2004.

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