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EDITIONS
Monday, 14 October, 2002, 14:57 GMT 15:57 UK
Butler 'stole Diana's belongings'
Paul Burrell arriving at court
Paul Burrell denies acting dishonestly
Princess Diana's former butler stashed away hundreds of personal items belonging to the Royal Family in his loft, a court has been told.

Paul Burrell, 44, and described by Diana as "my rock", is charged with stealing up to 286 items belonging to Diana's estate, 22 belonging to Prince William and four belonging to the Prince of Wales.

Jurors at the Old Bailey were told that, in one letter from Diana to Prince William, the princess referred to her son by his pet name - "my darling wombat"

Diana, Princess of Wales
Diana was killed in a car crash in 1997

Mr Burrell, a father of two, denies the charges.

The Princess's belongings were allegedly stolen from Kensington Palace between 1 January 1997 and 30 June, 1998.

The items include personal memorabilia, photographs and letters, clothes, CDs and jewellery.

The issue may be whether they were entrusted to Mr Burrell by the Princess or whether the 44-year-old father stole them.

He denies acting dishonestly at any time.

Letters

Making his opening statement, William Boyce QC, prosecuting, told the jury: "The overwhelming evidence is that the takings took place as he was preparing to leave after her death and making arrangements to go (from Kensington Palace).

"You will hear varying explanations Mr Burrell gave as to why he had it which we don't feel are entirely consistent with each other."

Mr Boyce took the jury through plans and photographs of Mr Burrell's Cheshire home.

A lot of property was found in the loft, he told the court.


It was lovely to catch a kiss and a hug from you this morning, even though I would like to run away with you

Princess Diana writing to Prince William

More was found in a wardrobe - including some nightwear belonging to the Princess.

The court heard other items found included a letter from the Queen Mother, found in Mr Burrell's study.

It began "Darling Diana" and was signed "Yours affectionately, Granny".

Mr Boyce added: "This is totally personal, intimate family relationships and Mr Burrell had it."

The court also heard an extract from a letter written by Diana to Prince William, using her pet name for him.

The note read: "My darling Wombat.

"It was lovely to catch a kiss and a hug from you this morning, even though I would like to run away with you."

Family photographs

Other letters included one written by Mother Theresa, dated March 15, 1991, which bore the stamp of her mission in Calcutta and another stamp, on May 15, showing it had been received by the Prince and Princess of Wales.

Mr Boyce said: "As you can see, it's a personal letter, addressed `Dear Princess Diana'."

Mother Teresa
Letters included one from Mother Teresa

Two books of family photographs were also included in the stash, Mr Boyce explained.

He said: "These pages all have the handwriting of Diana on them and you can see the comments - Harry, September 89... first day at school."

The books contained pictures of Princes' Harry and William and Prince Charles, the court heard.

The trial is expected to last six weeks.

Although Diana's mother and sister will be called, Prince Charles and Prince William will not appear.

The defence legal team is led by Lord Carlile of Berriew, QC, and Mrs Justice Rafferty is presiding at the trial.

Mr Burrell worked for the Royal Family for 21 years, including time as the Queen's personal footman.

He met the princess in 1980 while she was staying at Balmoral, and she chose him as a butler for Highgrove, Gloucestershire.

He was arrested in January last year when police raided his home in Farndon, Cheshire.

The case continues.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Nicholas Witchell
"He is the man who was allegedly described by Diana as her 'rock'"
See also:

14 Oct 02 | UK
16 Aug 01 | UK
29 Nov 01 | UK
19 Jan 01 | UK
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