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Wednesday, 18 March, 1998, 20:00 GMT
Diana's "rock" throughout the storms
Paul Burrell
Princess Diana described her butler Paul Burrell as "my rock"
The Princess of Wales wrote two words when asked to list the things she wanted to salvage from her broken marriage - they were Paul Burrell.

The 39-year-old son of a lorry driver was nominally butler to the world's most famous woman.

In reality, he was a trusted confidant and a ferociously loyal friend.

Not once has he betrayed any of the private moments he would have witnessed throughout the princess's turbulent life.

Those credentials will have played a key role in his appointment to spearhead fund-raising for the Diana Memorial Fund.

He has said: "I tried to protect the princess during her lifetime and now I am trying to protect her memory."

Royal ambition

The Derbyshire-born butler knew he wanted to embark on a royal career from the age of 12.

On a day trip to see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace he turned to his parents and said: "I want to work here one day."

Less than six years later he achieved that goal after attending a college course in hotel management and catering in Buxton before landing a job at the palace.

In 1984 he married Maria, then a maid to Prince Phillip, and four years later the couple moved to work at Highgrove.

Mr Burrell stayed with Diana throughout her marriage break-up and the constant stream of revelations that pursued her until her death.

His two sons Alexander, 11, and Nicholas, nine, often accompanied Diana on family outings with Prince William and Harry.

By her side in life and death

When the shock news broke that the princess and Dodi Fayed had been killed in a car crash in Paris, he immediately flew to France to help prepare her body before Prince Charles and her sisters arrived.

He told his brother Graham: "I've got to go her."

Since the tragedy struck, the royal manservant has been bombarded by lucrative offers to work for the rich and famous including Tom Cruise and tycoon Donald Trump.

He said he would make no decision until his former employer's affairs were tidied up.

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

Now it has been decided that the lorry driver's son from the village of Grassmoor will guard Diana's legacy by helping the charities she helped to nurture.

It is a fitting role for the man the princess once described as "my rock".

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