| The front cover of the book A Royal Duty by Paul Burrell which went on sale on Monday in London. (Reuters)
London, Oct. 27 (Reuters): Princess Diana’s former butler ignored an unprecedented plea from Britain’s two young princes and went ahead today with publication of an intimate book about their dead mother.
As stores began selling A Royal Duty, the butler-turned-author Paul Burrell welcomed a request to meet Princes William and Harry, vowing to give them “a piece of my mind”.
With an initial 95,000 copies on sale in Britain and 700,000 in the US, the book’s most sensational revelation is that Diana predicted her own death in a car crash just 10 months before she died in a Paris road tunnel in 1997.
It is also packed with personal letters and details around the famous infidelities of Diana and ex-husband Prince Charles, Britain’s heir-to-the-throne, before their break-up.
“We cannot believe Paul, who was entrusted with so much, could abuse his position in such a cold and overt betrayal,” the angry princes said at the weekend.
They urged him to halt the revelations and meet them.
Burrell responded positively, but said he too was hurt — by the boys’ failure to contact him when he was on trial a year ago for theft of Diana’s goods. The trial collapsed, unleashing a tide of embarrassing revelations for the House of Windsor.
“They offered to see me and I said: ‘Yes please.’ I am very happy to sit in front of them and explain the process of writing this book and why I did it,” Burrell told BBC radio.
“I think I would like to give them a piece of my mind and ask them: ‘Why did they personally not help me when I needed help at the worst point of my life'’ I tried desperately to contact them but there was no response,” he added. In another interview to be shown later on BBC TV, Burrell said the princes need to “grow up and get on with it.”
Despite being called “my rock” by the popular Diana during more than a decade’s service, Burrell has been vilified by sections of the British media for stirring old scandals.
One friend of Diana called him a “vulture” raking over her bones.
But Burrell insisted his book — expected to soar straight into the bestseller list — was an attempt to set the record straight about a misunderstood woman. “It is a loving tribute,” he said.
“It’s an accurate portrayal of a life which I witnessed. This is part of my life, part of what I saw and heard. It doesn’t come any more real than that.
“The British public have a right to know.”
The Queen’s husband, Prince Philip, has been severely embarrassed by the publication of his correspondence with Diana in the book, extracts of which were printed in recent days by the tabloid newspaper the Daily Mirror. “We do not approve of either of you having lovers,” Philip wrote in one letter to his daughter-in-law, referring to both her affairs and Charles’ relations with Camilla Parker Bowles.
“I cannot imagine anyone in their right mind leaving you for Camilla,” he added.
The royals are said by friends to be terrified Burrell may shed more light on a lurking scandal over claims by a royal servant that he was raped.
Burrell and Diana are said to have heard a tape detailing the allegation.
But Burrell promised he would not go too far in telling royal secrets. “I know where the line is,” he said.