Express & Star

Princess Diana's butler: 'Everyone has a right to defend themselves and that's what I did'

"It's true servants are not supposed to speak but my hand was forced. I had to," says Princess Diana's former butler Paul Burrell, who angered many in the royal family when he exposed intimate details about the her and his time at the palace.


He says he had to publish his bestsellers because fate had dealt him 'a cruel blow' and he and his family had been dragged to hell and back - but insists he has no regrets and stands by all his allegations.

Burrell was speaking exclusively to the Express & Star after attending a charity event in Wolverhampton hosted by the Mayor Milkinder Jaspal.

Diana's trusted butler was accused of theft in 2002 but the trial collapsed at the eleventh hour, after the Queen recalled a conversation in which her former footman told her he was safeguarding some of the princess's treasures. Burrell said the case left him 'penniless'.

"I never intended to write my autobiography in the first instance but fate dealt me a cruel blow by taking me to a place where I didn't actually want to go and that was the highest court in the land.

"I was accused of doing things which I hadn't done and at the end of that I never had an actual defence of my own because the prosecution had done all the damage in the meantime and my trial was stopped before I was able to tell my side of the story.

"Plus at the end of that ordeal, which dragged me and my family to hell and back, I was penniless and so I had to restore to my family, as any father and husband would, what was originally mine. So that's the reason I wrote my book," says Burrell, who served Diana for 10 years.

"When I wrote the manuscript I gave it to my wife to read. I said to her 'pull out what I shouldn't say' and she did take pages out but as for the rest of it, I think you have a fair balance.

"Everyone has a right to speak up and defend themselves and that's what I did."

But how would Diana, who Burrell says referred to him as 'the only man I have ever trusted', have felt about it?

"Knowing her so well and knowing what I did for her in her lifetime, she would say to me, and I think I'm right in saying this, don't just sit there and let them tell these stories about me, don't let them tell lies, don't let them re-write history.

"You know the truth, stand up and speak the truth and tell it respectfully and tell it with love.

"You see so many people have criticised what I've written in the past because they haven't even read it themselves."

Burrell's first book, A Royal Duty in 2003, caused a furore in royal circles but to his knowledge he says Princes William and Harry have never read it.

"If they read my words they would know I have spoken about their mother's world with love.

"I do wish certain things hadn't happened to me but thank goodness we've got a wonderful Queen and she came forward for me when I needed it most."

Burrell served as the Queen's footman for 11 years and speaks about Her Majesty with respect and great affection.

"She is the grandmother you would want to have. She's a warm, kind, generous, affectionate, funny, Christian lady who is incapable of hurting anyone and while she is on the throne it's safe because she is what has made Britain great."

The public, said Burrell, love the royal family because it underpins all that is great about this country.

"The Queen of England is in everybody's home as much as tea is.

"I will always defend them, I will always be there for them. I think the wonderful legacy of William and Harry and Kate and now baby George is actually from the princess. It's her legacy and I'm very proud to have been part of that."

Sixteen years after her death in a Paris car crash, why does Diana remain one of the most iconic figures of our time?

"Because she died so young, because it was a tragedy, because she was the mother of two young boys and because so many people around the world had an empathy with her - I think that's why she's become so iconic."

Fittingly, for someone who served one of the most glamorous women in the world, Burrell came to the city after being invited to a fashion show. He arrived with his good friend Andy Brown, secretary of the Black Country branch of the MS Society, one of the charities the event was supporting.

He was impressed by the dramatic view of Molineux and knew about Wolves' recent promotion.

> Read more of Paul's anecdotes in the June issue of Wolverhampton Magazine out May 21.

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