Princess Diana’s former butler, Paul Burrell, has been busy telling US viewers about Diana’s life as part of an exclusive interview for Diana at 50, broadcast on reelzchanneltv last weekend. TMR publisher and Diana’s official biographer, Andrew Morton, was among the other contributors.
In his familiar role as Diana’s ‘rock’ and custodian of her memories, Burrell claimed: "I met the princess when she was 18 years old and I was 20. I met her at Balmoral castle when she'd come to stay for the weekend and I realised that on that on that day in September 1980, at Balmoral Castle, a friendship was born...”
How lovely, but Diana was born July 1st 1961 and Burrell - as his first book, A Royal Duty informs us - was born June 6th 1958. So that made Diana 19 and Burrell 22 when they met in September 1980.
The man who can’t remember his own birth date made a bigger mistake when writing his second book The Way We Were. Burrell included a private photograph of the Princess’s charm bracelet and claimed: “She never wore the piece of jewelery to which she attached most sentiment, because it was ‘too precious’ - the charm bracelet given to her by Prince Charles.”
That is very odd. When I was researching a programme on Diana’s jewels, I came across scores of pictures of Diana wearing the same bracelet! Burrell even included a picture in the book of Diana greeting William and Harry on the Britannia. If inspected closely - well, more closely than Burrell did - the bracelet can be seen on Diana’s wrist.
In the programme Diana at 50, Burrell claimed he informed the Queen that her son was dysfunctional. The interviewer asked him: “So, you'd go to the Queen and say: "I heard Charles say this? When did the lines get blurred?" Burrell replied: "I did feel a little strange and nervous because I shouldn't be telling the Queen of England about her son's misgivings, I shouldn't be telling the Queen that her son was dysfunctional, but perhaps she already knew that."
Every time Paul Burrell dispenses with his alter-ego, the humble Cheshire florist, and pops up yet again to talk about Diana, I get an uneasy feeling that maybe there’s a third book of revelations in him. I strongly suspect that one day he’ll review his pension funds, leave behind his land of make believe, and realise that there’s a lot to be made in spilling the real secrets he gathered in his long service with the Queen and Diana.