Princess Diana’s former butler, Paul Burrell, knows what goes on behind closed doors in royal quarters. And, following the death of his beloved boss, he’s revealed a few secrets about Diana and her private life, much to the chagrin of her relatives. Burrell is now focusing on the late princess’s son Harry, and he has spoken out about the Duke of Sussex’s marriage to Meghan Markle. What do you think he revealed in his open declaration? Continue reading to find out!
Burrell has long had ties to the royal family, so he knows what he’s talking about. After a childhood visit to Buckingham Palace, the Englishman developed a deep and abiding interest in the British monarchy. This would eventually lead to a coveted position as Queen Elizabeth II’s footman. Yes, he knows everything there is to know about Britain’s most famous clan.
On the other hand, Burrell’s second role in the royal family would make him a household name. He worked as Diana’s butler for a decade until her untimely death in 1997, a position he claims brought him closer to his boss. Burrell went so far as to say that he was “the only man [Diana] ever trusted.”
A Controversial Figure
After being relieved of his duties, Burrell, on the other hand, has become a controversial figure in his own right, frequently making tabloid headlines. For example, police searched his home in Cheshire’s English county in 2001 after receiving robbery complaints. According to reports, Burrell was accused of stealing various items from Diana, her ex-husband Prince Charles, or her eldest son Prince William. Who was the one who came to his rescue? It’s the Queen, of course!
Speaking In His Defense
Even though Burrell was charged with robbery, his case was sensationally dismissed when the Queen intervened in his defense. She had apparently given her former employee permission to store the 310 items in question. As a result of this action, all legal proceedings against Burrell were dropped.
Not The Last Time
This, however, would not be the last time Burrell’s actions were questioned. During the investigation into Diana’s death in 2008, it was discovered that an ex-royal household member had secretly duplicated the princess’s and others’ correspondence. On the other hand, Burrell said he did so because of the papers’ “historical importance.”
His Personal Life
Then there’s Burrell’s personal life, which has been the subject of much speculation. In 2016, he and his wife Maria announced their divorce after 32 years of marriage. The ex-butler walked down the aisle for the second time a year later, this time with partner Graham Cooper. Burrell once told Diana that he was gay, according to a source.
Is It True?
Was this the predicament? Burrell has withdrawn. “Diana and I never discussed my sexuality at length, but it was a known thing between us,” he said in an interview with OK! Magazine in 2020. “Let’s face it: I made great flower arrangements, chose her outfits, and gave her advice. All the clues were there, and she was a clever lady.”
Being In The Spotlight
Burrell has embraced the limelight, not least by penning numerous books about his interactions with the royal family. He’s also a regular on reality TV, having appeared on Celebrity Big Brother, and I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! in the United Kingdom and serve as a judge on Australian Princess. The ex-butler is considered an expert because he had firsthand knowledge of the royal family’s inner workings.
The Ideal Correspondent
As a result, Burrell was an ideal royal correspondent for Lorraine, a British morning television show. He was hired in the days leading up to Harry and Meghan’s wedding, and it’s said that his connection to the groom’s mother helped him land the job.
Giving His Opinions
Burrell hasn’t stopped expressing his feelings about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex since then. During an interview for the 2019 British documentary Kate v Meghan: Princesses at War?, the former royal aide described the Suits star as a “strong and independent woman.” Nonetheless, he doubted that someone from such a humble background could adapt to her current opulent surroundings.
Marrying The Most Traditional Family
Burrell stated, “Meghan has married into the most traditional family in the country: the royal family.” He continued, “How is she going to cope? Princess Diana was brought up in a house that was as big as Buckingham Palace, and even she was lost.” He said, drawing parallels with the woman he had served for a decade.
Meghan would be in big trouble, according to Burrell, if she didn’t follow royal protocol. “Buckingham Palace is a minefield for any person going in there for the first time. People set traps, [and] they weren’t very kind to this young girl coming into this world. Who would want to be part of that family?” Burrell stated.
On the other hand, Burrell gave Meghan some advice to help her cope with the pressures of being a princess. He encouraged her to get to know the family’s most powerful member, Harry’s grandmother, the Queen. Diana’s supposed confidante also advised Meghan to stay as close to her new husband as possible.
Commenting On The Couple
Burrell has continued to make comments about the royal couple since then. He was asked for his thoughts on Harry and Meghan’s son Archie’s birth on a May 2019 episode of Good Morning Britain. In response to a question about how Diana would have received her fourth grandchild, he said, “She’d be in her element, wouldn’t she?” He continued, “[Meghan’s mother] Doria would not get a look in. She’d have been thrilled to bits.”
Protective Of His Family
That wasn’t the end of the story, though. Burrell was welcomed onto Good Morning Britain after the British TV premiere of Harry and Meghan: An African Journey in October 2019. In the documentary, the Duke of Sussex explains why he feels compelled to protect his family, saying, “My mom clearly taught me a certain set of values of which I will always try and uphold – despite the role and the job that sometimes entails if you know what I mean.”
A Loving Husband
“Everything that [Diana] went through and what happened to her is incredibly raw every single day,” Harry continued. “And that’s not me being paranoid; that’s just me not wanting a repeat of the past. And if anybody else knew what I knew – be it a father, be it a husband, be it anyone – you’d probably be doing exactly what I’m doing as well.”
“I knew [Harry], he was devastated, and to walk behind his mother’s coffin in front of the world was just dreadful,” Burrell said in response to the documentary on Good Morning Britain. He added, “And that’s had an amazing impact on him. He does feel that the media hounded [Diana] to her death.”
Given his ability to make such bold statements, it’s probably no surprise that Burrell was welcomed back onto Good Morning Britain in January 2020. Harry and Meghan famously announced that they would be stepping down as senior royals later that month. Following his comments on the drama, the former butler drew yet another parallel between Meghan and Diana.
What Diana Might Do
To begin with, Burrell thought his late boss would have approved of the couple’s divisive decision. He said, “As I’ve seen this unfold in America, I’ve been thinking of [Diana]. She would have given the boys advice and said to them, ‘Marry for love,’ which they have, ‘Be respectful and kind to your wife,’ which they both have, but [also] ‘Be happy.’”
Not Afraid To Cut Ties
“Diana wasn’t [happy], and clearly Meghan and Harry aren’t [either] in the environment they’re in – being stifled by the royal household,” Burrell continued from his Florida home. “Diana found that impossible, marrying the whole family.” He also stated that Diana and Meghan were not afraid to cut ties with others if necessary.
Wanting To Flee
Diana, according to Burrell, had also planned to flee her homeland. The former royal aide claims that “She had the plans for that on her sitting room floor to buy a home in Malibu when she went away to the Mediterranean. She was going to buy that property, so is it any surprise Harry is following his wife’s dreams and [in] his mom’s footsteps?”
Burrell did, however, express sympathy for one of his former employers. According to him, “I feel very sorry for the Queen, of course… 93 years old. Our monarch has suffered greatly over the years and seen a lot happen to her family, and she’s moved with the times.”
Prince Harry And His Brother
The prince’s relationship with his older brother was also a source of concern for Burrell, who stated, “I do feel sorry for William and Harry not having that bond they once had. Obviously, when their mother died, they were cemented together and inseparable. I feel sorry for that, and their mother would be sad, too.”
Taking Her Side
However, when Good Morning Britain’s Piers Morgan questioned Harry and Meghan about their work ethic, Burrell appeared to support Meghan. He retorted, “It’s tough for the outside world to understand what it’s like to live in a palace. You don’t just marry one person; you marry the whole family. [Meghan] had no idea what she was getting herself into. Nobody can.”
A Note From Diana
Burrell then claimed to have received a note from Diana, saying, “I saw recently a letter [that the princess] wrote to me. She wrote to me about her future, and she said, ‘I would look up and live and laugh and love.’ And I think they’re poignant words to send to Harry and Meghan.”
Supporting Them Unconditionally
So, in Burrell’s opinion, would Diana have approved of her youngest son’s relationship? The former butler hinted as much in an interview with CheshireLive in April 2020, saying, “Princess Diana would have wanted her sons to be happy and would have supported them unconditionally.”
Living A Happy Life
Burrell continued, “[With Harry] being sixth in line to the throne, it is unlikely that he will become king. Why not let [he and Meghan] have a happy life? And with the Queen’s approval, there is no reason why they shouldn’t achieve their dreams and be totally independent.”
A Lot In Common
During an interview with Closer the following month, Burrell mentioned that Harry’s wife and late mother had something in common. He stated, “Harry went for and married Meghan because she’s like Diana. Both [are] women who would always stand up for what they believe in and wouldn’t be pushovers.” Despite this, Burrell believes that if Diana had been alive, the similarities between Meghan and her would have created some conflict.
They Would Have Clashed
“I think, possibly, [Diana and Meghan] would have clashed,” Burrell speculated. “I imagine it would have been two strong, independent women with different views on things. It would have been a battle between Meghan’s way and Diana’s way.” He did not, however, deny that the two are distinct in several ways.
The Main Difference
“I think the main difference between them is that Meghan has a game plan, whereas Diana was young and naive,” according to Burrell. Although it appears that the princess used the media during her lifetime, her former butler suggested that it wasn’t for the same reasons as Meghan.
Courting The Press
“Diana did the book with Andrew Morton and courted the press over the years because she didn’t have a voice,” according to Burrell. “And her strong-mindedness meant [that] she cared, and she felt the people of the country had a right to know what had gone on behind closed doors. You could say Meghan does too – but I think her courting of the press is more for her career.”
Selling Her Public Image
Yes, the Duchess of Sussex is much more comfortable selling her public image than her late mother-in-law, according to Burrell. He then went on to say, “In years to come, we’ll see [Meghan] on red carpets, with A-list friends [and] in films, perhaps. Diana wasn’t like that. She wasn’t interested in self-promotion.”
Worrying For The Family
Meghan’s press relations, in particular, appear to be a source of concern for Burrell. The duchess and her husband, for example, should avoid any mention of being stalked, according to the ex-royal aide. He added, “They do need to accept being photographed by the paparazzi. They can’t have an entirely private life.”
From A Celebrity To A Royal
Meghan’s alleged enjoyment of the limelight has irritated Burrell in the past. In a 2019 piece for The Sun, he wrote, “The lines are getting blurred between celebrity and royal. There is a clear line between the two, and Meghan doesn’t know the difference. The Queen has always said, ‘We are not celebrities. To be royal is something very different.’”
A Part Of The Royal Family
“[Meghan] may say she doesn’t have to toe the line, but she has a royal title now, and you have to give up a lot to be a member of the royal family,” He continued. “She can’t have her cake and eat it. I think we all have to wait with bated breath and watch how this one will progress. It is certainly a fiery, tempestuous comet streaking through the royal family.”
Having A Baby
Unlike most of the press, Burrell does not believe the Duchess of Sussex is the brains behind her relationship. He said in an interview with OK!, “Meghan’s an independent woman who has her own mind. It may look as if she’s manipulating Harry, but she’s not! I have no doubt they discuss everything, and they’ll have another baby very soon.” Well, he was certainly correct about the baby!
Making Headlines For Other Reasons
On the other hand, Burrell is known for more than just his opinions on Harry and Meghan. He made headlines once again in May 2020 when he revealed what he claimed was a previously undisclosed letter from Princess Diana. In the letter, which was apparently written in 1992, the royal mentions a visit to Mother Teresa’s Calcutta convent home. Even though Diana did not have the opportunity to meet the saint, she appears to have found the trip to be extremely beneficial.
Deep Spiritual Experience
In a handwritten letter to Burrell, Diana revealed, “Today, something really profound touched my life. I went to Mother Teresa’s home and found the direction I’ve been searching for all these years. The sisters sang to me on arrival – a deeply spiritual experience – and I soared to such great heights in my spirit.”
What Is He Up To Now?
What else is Burrell up to now that he’s no longer mingling with royalty? He closed his floristry business, which he had owned for nearly 18 years, to travel with his husband, Cooper, in 2019. He also revealed the following to the Daily Mail about the upcoming trip: “I want to take [Cooper] to places I’ve been with the Queen and the princess and say, ‘I remember walking on this spot with the Queen on the Great Wall of China.’”
Not Just Burrell
Burrell isn’t the only one with new Diana information. On the night of the fatal accident that claimed the princess’ life, firefighters were on the scene, attempting to save the princess and her fellow passengers. While on the job, a member of the emergency crew overheard what he believed to be Diana’s final words, which he later revealed years after her death.
The Fireman At The Scene
Xavier Gourmelon has no idea who is involved in a car accident inside a Paris tube when he arrives. As the firefighter lifts a blonde woman from the wreckage’s back, she draws him closer. She might want to speak with him. When Princess Diana speaks to the man attempting to save her, Gourmelon has no idea that these will be the last words she ever speaks.
Heading To The Scene
Gourmelon was one of ten firefighters who rushed to the Pont d’Alma underpass. They discovered a Mercedes-Benz W140 with the front end destroyed. Unfortunately, one of the men inside also appeared to have died. As a result, Gourmelon scrambled to figure out who he could help, and the blonde woman appeared to be the best candidate.
Keeping Her Last Words Secret
Given her relatively stable condition while in the tunnel, Gourmelon was taken aback when he learned that the woman had died in hospital. The fact that the person in question was none other than Princess Diana made the situation even worse. Unbeknownst to the rest of the world, the Paris firefighter chose to keep her final words to himself for the next two decades.
Her Life Changed Forever
Before her tragic death, Diana had grown up as a member of the British aristocracy and was raised near the royal estate of Sandringham. Winston Churchill’s distant cousin found work doing menial jobs after failing to excel in school. But, for the fresh-faced young woman, bigger things beckoned, and her life would change forever.
She Caught The Prince Of Wales’ Attention
Diana famously attracted the attention of her sister Sarah’s boyfriend, Charles, Prince of Wales, when she was a teenager. And before she knew it, she was dating the British heir to the throne. In 1981, the couple married in a lavish ceremony that was broadcast live worldwide to hundreds of millions of people.
The Princess Of Wales
The world should have been Diana, Princess of Wales’ oyster now that she was married, especially after learning she was expecting a child. Diana’s life, on the other hand, was already bleak. Due to feelings of inadequacy, she threw herself down some stairs while pregnant. The paparazzi had begun to irritate her as well, with photographers even photographing her while pregnant in a bikini. And there was still more misery to come.
Unfortunately, behind the scenes, what appeared to be a fairy tale union turned out to be a nightmare. According to reports, both the prince and princess had affairs, while Diana battled an eating disorder and suffered from increasing bouts of mental illness. Camilla Parker-Bowles, with whom Charles had rekindled an old romance, has forced Charles out of her marriage.
They Later Separated
The royal couple divorced in 1996 after splitting in 1992. Worse, Diana had grown increasingly estranged due to the split, with confidants proving difficult to keep. For example, a Daily Mail journalist claimed that she only had five close friends at the time of her death. Diana’s love life flourished even after her marriage to Charles ended, which was fortunate for her.
And it’s been said that the young and beautiful princess drew a large number of suitors. While she was married, she had affairs with men like bodyguard Paul Manakee and cavalryman James Hewitt. According to sources, she also had to end a relationship with a car dealer named James Gilbey after tapes surfaced showing him calling her “Squidgy.” The press, as one might expect, flocked to that particular story.
A Man Named Hasnat Khan
Diana, on the other hand, appeared to have found some peace when she got to meet Hasnat Khan, a heart surgeon. Diana wanted a life away from the public eye, so they kept their relationship a secret.
She Loved Him
In addition, the princess appears to have told her friends that she had never met anyone like Khan. When she and a friend went to the Royal Brompton Hospital in London, she saw the doctor for the first time.
They Were Almost Married
The Romance Faltered
Diana is also said to have told her friend – and now Pakistan Prime Minister – Imran Khan about her feelings for the surgeon. The romance, on the other hand, began to falter after a while. Diana went on to perform at the ballet and visit Mother Teresa before being featured on the cover of Vanity Fair in July 1997, despite the risk of disappointment.
A Trip To France
Diana embraced billionaire Mohamed Al-Fayed’s invitation to spend the summer in St. Tropez, France. The tour included Princes William and Harry, and the royals all stayed in the businessman’s villa. Diana’s relationship with Dodi is said to have begun there, which is perhaps unsurprising.
Harassed By Photographers
Even after this, while on vacation, the princess was hassled by photojournalists who took photographs of her on a jet ski. Diana had informed the assembled reporters at an unplanned press conference that the next thing she did would impress them. Unfortunately, those words will turn out to be darkly prophetic.
They Already Knew Each Other
Diana had previously run with Dodi’s group, so she was already familiar with him prior to the St. Tropez ride. Dodi was Al-eldest Fayed’s son, and he had been brought up in the life of luxury as one of the billionaire’s grandchildren. Even after this, he had made a name for himself as a film director, with films like Chariots of Fire and Hook among his credits.
Ending Her Affair With Khan
As a direct consequence, when Diana decided to return to London, she ended her relationship with Khan, as the surgeon would later tell the police. He suspected she was dating someone new, possibly a member of the Al-Fayed family’s entourage. Khan didn’t really think much of the Egyptian billionaire, so he informed the princess that he didn’t think the relationship would be good for her.
Smitten With Diana
Even through this, Dodi appeared to be head over heels in love with Diana, despite the fact that he was already married. The business mogul’s son allegedly presented the royal with a bouquet of lavish roses, tropical fruit, and a Cartier watch, as if to make his intentions clear. In any case, he would sooner or later see his feelings reciprocated as he and the princess began dating.
The Ring On Her Hand
Regardless, there are differing perspectives on how serious Diana and Dodi’s romance was in late summer 1997. According to Vanity Fair, Dodi had planned to present the princess with a ring. Diana, on the other hand, reportedly informed friend Rosa Monckton that the ring would be worn on her right hand.
Enjoying Each Other’s Company
But whatever case was, Diana and Dodi were obviously having a good time with each other. Despite the fact that the paparazzi were not far away, the couple agreed to go on a cruise together in Sardinia at the end of July. Then, in August 1997, while Diana was in Bosnia for an anti-landmine event, photographs of the couple cuddling on Dodi’s yacht were released.
In France Once Again
The couple was back in France by the end of the month, this time in Paris, where they were staying at the Hôtel Ritz. According to a 2019 article in the Daily Mirror, Diana stayed in their suite while Dodi went to a jeweler to get the ring that the princess was expecting. On the evening of August 30, 1997, they decided to dine at the posh Benoit restaurant.
Change Of Plans
However, after being followed by up to 30 photographers on their way to dinner, the couple changed their stance. When they returned to the Ritz, they chose to dine at the fabled hotel’s L’Espadon restaurant. Dodi became concerned that some of the guests were also paparazzi after sitting down, forcing him and Diana to return to their room.
They Were Pursued
After finishing dinner, the two planned to spend the night at Dodi’s plush apartment near the Champs-Élysées. Despite this, they ran into a problem: they had been followed since leaving the hotel the night before. Both Diana and Dodi were certain that photographers were still looking for them. Eventually, a complex strategy was devised.
Despite the fact that it was his night off, Henri Paul, the deputy head of hotel management, was assigned to drive the couple. Two decoy vehicles would leave from the front, while Paul, Dodi, Diana, and bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones would leave from the back of the hotel. At this point, it was the early morning of August 31, 1997.
The Photographers Saw Through The Plan
As a result, Paul dashed into the darkness, but the photographers were alerted to the situation and pursued the Mercedes. According to an inquest, paparazzi attempted to “block” Paul in order to slow him down, but to no avail. Instead, the limo continued on its way, reaching speeds of around 65 mph before the accident.
Losing Control Of The Car
As it sped through the tunnel beneath Pont d’Alma, the Mercedes lost all control. The inquest will blame Paul, who had consumed enough alcohol to put him three times over the legal driving limit, because no photographer was close enough to have caused the lapse.
They Only Took Pictures
They Did Nothing
Despite the horrific wreckage, the paparazzi were said to have been doing nothing to assist the passengers, preferring to photograph the smashed vehicle instead. Fortunately, someone called 911, and a crew of firefighters from the nearby Malar station rushed to the scene.
Gourmelon Shares What Happened
The rescuers were under the command of Gourmelon, the night’s duty officer. In 2017, he’d reveal what he and his team had discovered to The Sun. “The car was in a mess, and we just dealt with it like any road accident. We got straight to work to see who needed help and who was alive.” Gourmelon explained.
Gourmelon aalso said, “For me, this was simply a banal traffic accident – one of many that emergency services have to deal with – and it was the usual causes: speed and a drunk driver.” And it was obvious right away that Paul was beyond help. Gourmelon said to The Sun. “When I got to the car, I could see the driver was already dead, and there was nothing that could be done for him.”
Suffering A Heart Attack
Dodi’s situation in the back of the limo, however, was not much better. He’d had a heart attack while still inside, and a paramedic called it his “moment of death” once he’d been lifted out. Thankfully, despite being severely injured, Rees-Jones survived the crash.