Nov. 20, 1995: Princess Diana admits, during a TV interview, that she had an affair with her riding instructor.
The infidelity itself was hardly news, but when Princess Diana admitted on British TV that she had been unfaithful to Prince Charles, it “plunged the monarchy into the greatest crisis since the Abdication,” the Daily Mail said, referencing King Edward VIII’s 1936 abandonment of his throne to marry a divorced American socialite.
On this day, Nov. 20, in 1995, the BBC aired Diana’s first solo press interview — a stroke of independence made possible by keeping her meeting with BBC’s Martin Bashir secret from Buckingham Palace. She took the opportunity to address the tensions within her marriage, her struggles with postpartum depression and bulimia, and the fact that she had been intimately involved with a man other than the Prince.
Charles had admitted to his own infidelity on a TV documentary the previous year. His longtime affair with Camilla Parker Bowles was no secret when Diana told Bashir, “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.”
Rumors of her five-year affair with cavalry officer James Hewitt, whom she’d hired as a riding instructor, had already made news as well, partly because he’d profited from the story by collaborating on a tell-all book, Princess in Love. In the interview, Diana said, “Yes, I adored him. Yes, I was in love with him. But I was very let down.”