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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 January 2008, 00:51 GMT
Royal Diana plot was 'impossible'
Paul Burrell and Princess Diana
Paul Burrell worked for Princess Diana for more than 10 years
Princess Diana's former butler has told the inquest into her death it is "impossible" that she was murdered on the orders of the Royal Family.

When asked if Prince Charles could have planned her death, Paul Burrell said: "I could not possibly see the father of her children murdering her."

Diana's employee of more than 10 years also told the High Court she had considered marrying Hasnat Khan.

Mr Burrell said Diana loved the heart surgeon more than "any other man".

Prince Charles was not capable of murdering the Princess - they were cordial towards the end of her life
Paul Burrell

However, he told the court that the princess's mother, Frances Shand Kydd, disapproved of the relationship.

Mr Burrell said Diana's relationship with her mother broke down after Mrs Shand Kydd, who died in 2004, accused her of "messing around" with Muslim men.

He revealed that Mrs Shand Kydd had called the princess a "whore".

He also told the court that as butler to the princess, he connected Diana's network of friends and had been "at the hub of the wheel".

Diana, her companion Dodi Al Fayed and their driver Henri Paul died in Paris in a car crash in August 1997.

Mr Burrell's comments about the likelihood of a royal murder plot followed a line of questioning about a note from the princess to him, in which she said that her husband Prince Charles was "planning an accident in my car".

Asked by Ian Burnett QC, counsel to the inquest, if he knew of anything to support the idea that Diana and Mr Al Fayed were murdered, Mr Burrell said: "No, I can't begin to believe that.

"Knowing the members of the Royal Family as I do, and knowing them so well, I think that's impossible."

'Powers at work'

Dismissing the suggestion of the Prince of Wales being involved in a murder plot, Mr Burrell said: "The princess always had a great fondness for Prince Charles even after her divorce.

"Prince Charles was not capable of murdering the princess - they were cordial towards the end of her life."

Hasnat Khan, photographed in 1996
Hasnat Khan was in a relationship with Diana for two years

Mr Burrell also described a 90-minute meeting with the Queen after Diana's death, during which she told him to "be careful" as there were "powers at work in this country".

It is unclear what the Queen meant and Mr Burrell never asked her to explain the remark, perceiving it to be a "general 'be careful warning' over many issues".

He suggested three possibilities - media bosses, the establishment and the security services.

Earlier, the inquest heard that the "extremely serious relationship" between the princess and Mr Khan had lasted for two years and Mr Khan had been a regular visitor to Kensington Palace until the couple parted in July 1997.

When asked by Mr Burnett whether she had "contemplated" marriage with Mr Khan, the former butler replied: "Yes, she did.

"She asked me if it was possible to arrange a private marriage between her and Hasnat Khan."

Friendship band

Mr Burrell also told the court:

  • He had not been given the impression by Princess Diana that Dodi Al Fayed, was "the one"
  • A ring bought by Mr Al Fayed for the princess was "not an engagement ring" but "a friendship band", which Diana wore on the fourth finger of her right hand
  • The couple were not engaged and he suggested Diana was "on the rebound" from her relationship from Mr Khan. He said Diana had told him: "I need marriage like a rash"
  • Diana had been on the contraceptive pill.
  • Mr Burrell later told the court he had seen letters between the princess and her father-in-law, the Duke of Edinburgh, which had been written as Diana and the Prince of Wales were divorcing in 1992.

    Although the correspondence was "sharp", it was not nasty and reflected "healthy banter" between the two of them, he said.

    "Prince Philip is not known for diplomacy but he certainly wouldn't have written nasty notes to the princess. He was fond of the princess," Mr Burrell said.

    In 2002 Mr Burrell, who worked for the Royal Family for more than 20 years, was cleared of stealing Diana's possessions after an Old Bailey trial collapsed.

    The inquest continues.

    Paul Burrell with Princess Diana

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