Princes criticize Diana's butler

Saturday, October 25, 2003

— Princess Diana's sons implored her former butler Friday to stop revealing secrets of her private life, calling a series of gossipy tabloid articles a "cold and overt betrayal" of their late mother.

In an unusually emotional written statement, 21-year-old William said Diana would have been mortified by Paul Burrell's revelations. William said he also spoke on behalf of his 19-year-old brother, Harry.

Burrell has written a book about Diana, "A Royal Duty," which has been excerpted all week in the Daily Mirror tabloid.

In a statement issued through his publisher Penguin, Burrell said he was saddened by the princes' statement "because I know that this book is nothing more than a tribute to their mother."

"My only intention in writing this book was to defend the princess and stand in her corner," Burrell said.

Burrell has written about private letters including one in which Diana reportedly said, 10 months before her death in a Paris car crash August 1997, that she feared someone was plotting to harm her in a staged car accident.

"We cannot believe that Paul, who was entrusted with so much, could abuse his position in such a cold and overt betrayal," the princes said in the statement released by Clarence House, where they live in London with their father, Prince Charles.

"It is not only deeply painful for the two of us but also for everyone else affected and it would mortify our mother if she were alive today and, if we might say so, we feel we are more able to speak for our mother than Paul.

"We ask Paul please to bring these revelations to an end," their statement said.

Clarence House said William and Harry -- who often played with Burrell's children at Kensington Palace when they were growing up -- were willing to meet with him to discuss the matter.

Burrell, whom Diana called "my rock," was once one of the royal family's most trusted servants and still professes loyalty to them. He worked for Diana for almost 10 years, was the first friend to reach her side after the crash that killed her and sat with her body through most of the following night.

He was the only mourner from outside her immediate family to attend her burial, and the queen awarded him the Royal Victorian Medal for services to the family.

The excerpts from his book, due out next week, have included references to private correspondence and a raft of intimate details about Diana's life and her relationships.