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Last Updated: Saturday, 25 October, 2003, 11:06 GMT 12:06 UK
Burrell: Diana's rock
Burrell received the Royal Victorian Medal
Mr Burrell was awarded for his royal service
While tensions grow between Buckingham Palace and Princess Diana's ex-butler Paul Burrell over his book revelations he has been busy treading the publicity trail.

Mr Burrell has defended his decision to write what he has described as his "tribute" to Diana, despite Princes William and Harry accusing him of "overt betrayal".

Speaking ahead of his book's publication on Monday, he told ABC News in the United States that he "had to try and put things right, for the princess".

"She called me her emotional washing machine. She could go out, and could come back with all her troubles, all her problems, she could tell me about them, and then go back and get more."

His book, of which extracts have been published in the Mirror this week, will tell the truth about Diana, he added.

Butler cleared

The book includes extracts from private letters sent by Diana to him.

Mr Burrell rose from humble origins to become the closest male confidant of Princess Diana.

But he was not the only person in Diana's life to earn the description of being her "rock".

Burrell accompanied Diana on foreign trips
Mr Burrell helped the princess on a trip to Angola

Princess Diana's mother Frances Shand Kydd said it "was a term she used for many people".

She was speaking at the Old Bailey trial of Mr Burrell last year before it collapsed.

In November 2002 Mr Burrell was cleared of all charges of stealing from the estate of Diana, the Prince of Wales and Prince William after it was revealed he had told the Queen he was keeping some of the princess's possessions.

Whether or not he held the title of "rock" alone, there is no doubt the manservant enjoyed a close trusting relationship with Diana.

Now 45, Mr Burrell grew up in the former Derbyshire mining village of Grassmere.

His Sunday school teacher, Margaret Hardy, remembers him as a shy, retiring boy who never abandoned his roots.

Last year she said: "I would trust him with my life. He's such a caring person."

Childhood ambition

The son of a lorry driver, Mr Burrell decided on a royal career at an early age, following a family trip to see the Changing of Guard at Buckingham Palace.

He told his parents then: "I want to work here one day."

Burrell and Princess Beanie Bear
Fundraising beanie bears: Burrell led the Diana Memorial Fund
It was his mother who secretly destroyed a job offer from the cruise ship operator Cunard, leaving him with the one from the palace.

Mr Burrell entered the royal household in 1976 as a trainee footman and within a year was appointed personal footman to the Queen.

In 1984 he married Maria, then a maid to Prince Philip, and they have two sons, Alexander and Nicholas.

The couple joined the staff of the Wales's in 1986 and were given jobs at Highgrove in Gloucestershire - he as butler, she as a maid and dresser.

The princess wrote two words when asked what she wanted to salvage from her broken marriage: "Paul Burrell".

In the years that followed, Diana increasingly came to rely on him.

He was the only member of her staff to travel with her to Angola, where she campaigned against landmines.

Mr Burrell complained about his hours and talked of getting a better paid position overseas.

Secrets safe

When the princess died in a car accident in Paris six years ago, it was Mr Burrell who destroyed the clothes she had been wearing at the time.

He was said to be devastated and in a state of despair.

Mr Burrell went on to spearhead the Diana Memorial Fund, the charitable foundation set up as a legacy.

"I tried to protect the princess during her lifetime and now I am trying to protect her memory," he said then.

And in September 1997 he was awarded the Royal Victorian Medal by the Queen in recognition of his service to the Royal Family and the Princess of Wales.

Speaking in 1998 he insisted Diana's secrets were safe.

"I was honoured and privileged to keep those secrets, which I intend to still keep," he said.

After Diana's death, Mr Burrell was in demand for after-dinner speaking and launched a writing career with a cookery and etiquette book about how to entertain in royal style.

But the engagements dried up at the time of his Old Bailey trial.

And he has said that no one from the Royal Family contacted him after the case collapsed.

In a letter to a friend last year, he wrote of how he would eventually have his say, in a dignified way and the truth would be told.


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