Published On: Sun, Aug 6th, 2017

Princess Diana documentary: Panorama interview body language shows ‘anger’ expert reveals


The intimate documentary was unprecedented, with no royal speaking so candidly to the press before – although there were some reports Diana went on to regret ever doing the interview.

Princess Diana was both praised and condemned for her decision to allow the cameras into her crumbling marriage and private life.

22 years on, the Panorama footage is no less shocking, with revelations of adultery, an eating disorder, self-harm and isolation from the young Princess.

Diana appeared to speak very freely in the interview – but what does her body language reveal? Expert Judi James analysed the footage for Express.co.uk.

“Watching this interview through contemporary eyes in an age where celebrity revelations about depression, eating disorders and divorce appear in the press on a daily basis it is easy to underestimate the strength, resolve and bravery of Diana’s words in the context of the climate she lived in.

“With her high, girlish vocal tone and those huge doe eyes looking close to tears (a look partly created by the use of white liner on the inner rim of her lower lids, which was a fashion trend of the time) her appearance can look deceptively vulnerable.

“But a proper examination of her body language and words suggest a much stronger, determined and apparently honest woman driven less by self-pity and vulnerability and more by a sometimes angry determination to set the record right.

“Her overall delivery is intelligent, thoughtful and controlled. She pauses slightly before each answer and her eyes tend to roll up to a spot that suggests honesty and recalled memory rather than fabrication. Her responses are forensic in terms of her verbal constructions while her lack of verbal fillers or hesitations suggest a woman with total clarity of thought holding an analytical review of her history plus quite high levels of confidence.

princess diana documentary panorama body languageBBC

Princess Diana documentary: Body language of Diana revealed by an expert

“She makes a telling switch from ‘I’ to ‘You’ and ‘One’ when she talks about her depression and eating disorder which suggests a desire to de-personalise and generalise  the experience but this does seem in keeping with her claims that she felt it equipped her with the empathy to help others in a similar situation.

“Considering the subjects covered her stronger emotions are held skilfully and quite amazingly in check throughout the interview although there are smaller signs of body language leakage that might reveal some of her suppressed thoughts.”

When discussing love and romance, Diana’s body language takes a stark turn. Judi revealed: “There are two very emphatic and more openly emotional body language moments. One is when she says ‘I adored him’ about James Hewitt and the other comes in the steely eye expression and toughening of tone when she describes her situation as ‘a chess game’ and announces ‘I’ll fight’ what she refers to as ‘The enemy’. Her pace picks up during this section and her tone is noticeably stronger.

“When she wants to imply there is more she could say she uses emphatic eye contact but with a sad eye expression accompanied by a dipped head and a wry smile. Her discussion of her marriage problems causes a brief accelerated blink rate that could be either anger or anxiety and when Camilla comes up she takes some deeper breaths, bites her lips and performs one of only a couple of hand-barriers when she touches her lip briefly.”


She refers to Charles with care and a lack of open bitterness but two micro-gestures suggest negative emotions

Judi James, author and body language expert


The most infamous section of the interview was Diana discussing Camilla Parker-Bowles, and her body language does not hide her thoughts.

Judi explained: “The line ‘There were three of us in this marriage’ does sound like a political sound bite but her strength of feeling creates an eye cut-off, where she looks down to hide her feelings.

“She refers to Charles with care and a lack of open bitterness but two micro-gestures suggest negative emotions when his name comes up. Her mouth drops and there is a display of the lower teeth suggesting a jaw-jut that is often a sign of anger and a desire to fight.

“Compared to her more open hostility to the press which she accuses of ‘harassment’ and where the anger is visible in her eyes and she even employs a raised index finger of command and control though, any anger about Charles is easily suppressed.”

princess diana documentary panorama body languageBBC

Princess Diana body language: Diana often looked close to tears, but she has a steely resolve

Surprisingly, despite the acrimonious relationship between them, Judi said Diana’s body language did not show too much bitterness towards Prince Charles.

Judi said: “She was accused of putting the boot in by implying he would never be king but her words are cleverly caring at this point and she does seem to be concerned for his personal struggle rather than starting rumours to be deliberately vengeful.

“Of course she looks like a woman who knew the impact of every word she spoke in this interview but she also looks honest and genuinely strong and determined.

“She could have wept to try to gain sympathy and she could have shown open anger about Camilla but she opted for a calm, rational and measured delivery instead, suggesting her core goal was to dispel any rumours about a weak woman with acute emotional problems.”



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