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Skeletons tumble out of royal cupboard

London, Nov. 10 (afp): Fresh claims that British royals hushed up the rape of a servant, and tabloid reports that a butler passed sensitive information to his boyfriend caused more embarrassment for the royal family today.

A saga that has mesmerised the press for days took another twist with newspaper reports that Princess Diana’s former butler Paul Burrell was gay.

Burrell has been in the headlines since he was acquitted on November 1 in a criminal trial of stealing hundreds of Diana’s belongings following her death in a car crash in Paris in 1997.

One national Sunday newspaper alleged Burrell, a 44-year- old married father of two, had a gay relationship in the early 1980s. In an interview with the News of the World, Australian Greg Pead claimed he was a lover of Burrell’s for two years.

Pead claimed to have been given unauthorised tours by Burrell of Buckingham Palace, the queen’s residence in central London, had sex with him there, and said the butler sent him letters revealing sensitive information on the day-to-day life of the royals. They reportedly included details of diplomatic relations with Spain and timings of a royal parade.

In another allegation, businessman Kevin horkin claimed in the People newspaper that Burrell had tried to seduce him and a friend at a celebrity charity event. A criminal theft case against Burrell was dropped after Queen Elizabeth acknowledged that the butler told her he had taken some of Diana’s personal effects for safekeeping.

Wife’s woes

Burrell’s wife said today that she had resented Diana’s constant demands on her husband and often felt there were three people in her own marriage.

“She said... that there were three people in her marriage and I said ‘yeah, and there are three in mine, too’,” Maria Burrell told the Sunday Mirror.

She said there were times she resented the princess greatly. “I wasn’t worried about what she was doing with my husband. And, yes, of course I know Paul loves her. But he wasn’t in love with her.”

A YouGov poll for the Mail on Sunday found two-thirds of Britons believed the queen intervened in the trial to prevent embarrassing revelations being made in the witness box.

A similar number said the queen had emerged from the trial without credit.

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