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Profile: Paul Burrell

Paul Burrell and Princess Diana
Paul Burrell was butler to Princess Diana for many years
Once her rock, former royal butler Paul Burrell has since been renamed Princess Diana's "porous rock".

The moniker was revised by lawyers during the inquest into the princess's death as it emerged Mr Burrell had made many of the her secrets public through leaks in letters, interviews and books.

Even under oath at the hearing, the 49-year-old had not told the whole truth, said the coroner, Lord Justice Scott Baker.

He suggested his eye might have been more firmly fixed on the impact the truth could have on his future enterprises.

Letter furore

Diana's former butler first appeared before the inquest during the course of three days in January, an experience he described as "horrid".

At the time he told the coroner he needed certain documents in order to shed further light on proceedings, and was ordered to "hot foot" it to his home in Farndon, Cheshire, to retrieve them.

But his return the next day only added to the confusion, as he said one letter that he had gone to retrieve was actually in the US and the "secrets" he had to divulge had already been heard by the inquest jury.

Later he refused to return to the inquest to explain discrepancies between his evidence and comments reported in the Sun newspaper - which he claimed had been the result of "entrapment".

By then, he was in the US - outside the jurisdiction of the English courts - and the coroner was unable to compel him to return.

Mr Burrell, who has another home in Florida, grew up in Grassmoor, a coal-mining community in north Derbyshire. He is married and has two sons.

Paul Burrell
Paul Burrell was told to travel to Cheshire to retrieve documents

According to his website, he visited London for the first time with his family aged eight, and while watching the Changing of the Guards ceremony at Buckingham Palace, he turned to his parents and said: "One day I'm going to work here."

At the age of 18 Mr Burrell got his wish and joined the palace staff as a household footman.

A year later he became the Queen's personal footman and eventually took the role of butler to the Prince and Princess of Wales at their household at Highgrove House in Gloucestershire.

He would remain in the Royal household for 22 years.

According to Mr Burrell, when Charles and Diana divorced in 1996 the Princess was ask to compile a list of everything she would wish to take from Highgrove to her apartment in Kensington Palace.

At the top of that list, he said, was his name.

Final duty

On 31 August 1997, when Diana died in Paris, Mr Burrell flew to the French capital where he was handed the clothes she died in.

He dressed her body in a clean outfit and put on her make-up before joining the Prince of Wales in returning to Britain with her body.

In 1998 he said of Diana: "I don't think I'll ever get over her death. Nothing can replace that void."

In January 2001 Mr Burrell was arrested in a dawn raid on his Cheshire home, and he was later accused of stealing from Diana and Prince William.

In August of that year Mr Burrell was charged in court with stealing 342 items belonging to Diana and the Prince of Wales.

Second trial halted

The items included CDs and LPs signed by Diana, some of her designer clothing and family photo albums.

After a false start - the first trial was stopped almost straight away for legal reasons - the second trial was halted after nine days and then collapsed after it was revealed Mr Burrell had told the Queen he was keeping some of Diana's possessions.

As recognition of his service to the Royal Family, Mr Burrell was decorated by the Queen with the Royal Victorian Medal in November 1997.

In 2004, he was runner-up in the ITV's jungle-based reality show I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here, when his animated reactions to some of the Bushtucker Trials proved a particular highlight for viewers.

He has written several books, including memoirs of his time with Diana and also on etiquette and entertaining.

Royal butler trial collapses
01 Nov 02 |  UK News
Diana's faithful servant speaks
18 Mar 98 |  UK News

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