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EDITIONS
Saturday, 16 November, 2002, 17:14 GMT
Burrell applauds family support
(left to right) Alexander, Paul, Maria and Nicholas outside their Cheshire home
Crowds of supporters greeted the Burrell family
Princess Diana's former butler, Paul Burrell, has returned to his Cheshire home and thanked friends and family for their support over the past months.

Mr Burrell arrived back from New York on Saturday and returned to the village of Farndon for the first time since the collapse of his theft trial.

Greeting cheering crowds, he spoke from outside his house, accompanied by his wife Maria and their sons Alexander and Nicholas.

His fellow villagers were holding a welcome home party in the local pub on Saturday evening.


We are a family and we will stay united no matter what the press say about us

Paul Burrell
Mr Burrell has spent the last week giving media interviews in the US, while his revelations about life with the Royal Family have amassed huge publicity in the UK.

But he said the ordeal of the trial and its aftermath had been made easier though the support of those close to him.

"I want to thank the people of Farndon and Holt for supporting me and my family for the past 21 months.

"Life has not been easy for them either.

"They are my friends and I'm looking forward to going across the road to have a pint with them."

Paul Burrell waves to crowds
Burrell was glad to be home
He also denied media reports which claimed the publicity since the trial - including some which cast doubt on his credibility - had put unbearable pressure on his wife and sons.

"We are a family and we will stay united no matter what the press say about us.

"We are a family who talk to each other constantly.

"We talk about every problem we have and we all understand each other."

Rape claim

Mr Burrell and his wife said they hoped to return on Monday to work at their flower shop in Holt, north Wales.

But he said he was considering offers about his long-term future.

Describing the support shown by the Farndon community, Maria Burrell said: "They've known for the past 21 months what we've been going through. People in London haven't."

Burrell family in New York
The Burrells provoked huge interest in New York
Since Mr Burrell left for America, other allegations about the royal household have emerged, including one of the rape of one employee by another.

The Prince of Wales was forced to step in an order an inquiry into the allegations by his former valet, which were allegedly recorded on tape by Princess Diana.

Questions have also been raised over the Queen's involvement in the collapse of Mr Burrell's theft trial.

Mr Burrell was paid 300,000 by the Mirror for his story which was spread over several days.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Simon Vigar
"Home at last to a hero's welcome"

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