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2001: Diana butler charged with theft

Paul Burrell, former butler to Diana, Princess of Wales, has been charged with theft from her estate, the Prince of Wales and Prince William.

The charges relate to a total of 342 items, reportedly worth 5m, which are said to have been stolen from Kensington Palace, the princess' former London home.

Mr Burrell, 42, of Farndon, Cheshire, has been on bail since he was arrested on suspicion of theft in January.

He was charged at West End Central police station in London on Thursday.

Mr Burrell has denied any impropriety and maintained the items were given to him by Princess Diana.

His solicitor, Andrew Shaw, read a short statement from the steps of the police station.

"Paul Burrell denies absolutely the charges that have been preferred against him," Mr Shaw said.

"He's rightly perceived to be a man of integrity and trusted by the royal family. He says that their trust is justified."

Among the hundreds of items allegedly stolen from the estate of the Princess of Wales include hats, handbags, and photographs.

Several CDs and vinyl records were also on the list issued by the Metropolitan police.

Items allegedly stolen from Prince William include photographs and cards - many from his mother and one from Baywatch star David Hasselhoff.

Mr Burrell is also alleged to have stolen an Indiana Jones bullwhip and a white metal pepper grinder from the Prince of Wales.

He will appear at Bow Street magistrates' court on Friday.

Paul Burrell joined the Wales household in 1986 and became the princess's friend and confidant.

He was famously referred to by her as "my rock".

When she was killed in a car crash in August 1997 he flew to France to help prepare her body.

In September 1997 he was awarded the Royal Victorian Medal by the Queen in recognition of his services.

In Context
In October 2002 Paul Burrell's trial collapsed after the Queen remembered a conversation in which Mr Burrell told her he was storing some of Princess Diana's belongings.

Sceptics said the Queen's recollection had come just in time to prevent Mr Burrell giving evidence and potentially revealing embarrassing royal secrets.

Soon after the collapse of his trial Mr Burrell sold his story to a British national newspaper for a rumoured 300,000.

He also travelled to the US and appeared on several American chat shows.

In December 2002 the trial of another former butler of Princess Diana, Harold Brown, also collapsed.

Mr Brown had faced charges of theft of items belonging to Princess Diana with a value more than 1m.

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