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Last Updated: Saturday, 25 October, 2003, 13:51 GMT 14:51 UK
Q&A: Princes' anger at Burrell
Q&A graphic
Princes William and Harry have accused former royal butler Paul Burrell of betraying their mother in a new book. He has defended his actions, insisting his book is a tribute to the princess.

BBC News Online looks at the background to the bitter exchanges of fire.

Why did the princes release such a strongly worded statement?

This statement was obviously deeply from the heart.

Mr Burrell was a man William and Harry obviously knew as children and he was someone who always described himself as the keeper of their mother's secrets.

They saw those secrets divulged across the newspapers last week - and this is just the latest round of information that has come from Mr Burrell.

There was a torrent immediately after the court case when he was cleared of stealing their mother's possessions.

But Friday morning's revelations of the men their mother was allegedly involved with was evidently the final straw.

What did the princes hope to gain from this statement?

Whether this can actually achieve anything of course is another matter.

Revelations from the book have been coming out all week ahead of its publication on Monday.

Mr Burrell has staunchly defended his actions in his response to the criticism.

The only possibility perhaps is they feel there is more information that Mr Burrell may wish to put into the public domain - perhaps in a second book.

Or maybe the strategy is to hope that the public will boycott the book.

But looking at previous examples where people have tried to prevent publications, it usually has the opposite effect and sales increase.

Paul Burrell must have anticipated this kind of angry reaction - what is his defence?

He has been consistent in saying he would never betray the trust of his former employer, and would be the guardian of her secrets.

He was referred to as her "rock".

He defends his action by saying he is using her own words to illustrate the pressures she was under, both in the run-up to the end of her marriage to Charles and in the months before her own death.

He says he is putting the record straight and is issuing as fair an account as possible of her life.

But he must have been horrified by the vehemence of the princes' attack.

What went wrong with Paul Burrell's relationship with the Royal Family?

For many years, Mr Burrell was a key member of the inner circle, a trusted and loyal servant.

But he felt betrayed when last year he was charged with theft of many of the princess's possessions - which he claimed he had full permission to safeguard.

He felt betrayed, and it seems very clear his relationship with senior members of the Royal Family, and many of the courtiers, began to deteriorate severely at that point.

As his response to the princes' statement made clear, he was also clearly affronted by the fact that despite the collapse of the case, he has never received an apology from the Royal Family.

Mr Burrell thus feels justified in what he is doing now, which cannot help mend relations with the princes and their father.

The only possibility is Mr Burrell accepts an apparent offer by the princes to meet and come to an agreement on how any further revelations will be managed.

The BBC's Nicholas Witchell
"They ask him to please bring these revelations to an end"


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