London, Nov. 8 (Reuters): To the royals’ discomfort and the public’s titillation, Britain’s most famous servant kept up today his juicy tales of life as Princess Diana's butler.
But Paul Burrell’s third instalment of memoirs about “Lady Di” — still fascinating Britons long after her 1997 death in a Paris car crash — were rather less dramatic than his opening recollections.
Today’s main revelation was that Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, had snubbed Queen Elizabeth’s Windsor family by stripping the royal banner from Diana’s coffin and replacing it with the Spencer family flag.
“It seemed it had more to do with his Spencer vs Windsor war than doing what Diana would have wanted,” Burrell told the Daily Mirror newspaper, which won a media bidding war for his story.
The former butler was sensationally cleared last week of stealing Diana’s belongings after an unprecedented intervention in a court case by the Queen at the 11th hour.
In today’s interview, Burrell claimed removal of the royal banner from Diana’s coffin “was depriving the princess of her proper status in life — a status of which she was proud”.
He added: “This was the Earl’s final insult at the worst of times. It was inappropriate and disrespectful.” In a funeral oration for his sister, Earl Spencer famously berated the royal family by implication for cold-shouldering Diana. In fact, Diana, divorced from Prince Charles, had strained relations with both the Spencers and the Windsors in her troubled final years.
Burrell, said to have received around £300,000 for his five-part interviews with the Mirror which will end on Sunday, was apparently one of Diana’s main confidants.
He says he has broken his silence to defend her memory, but financial motives and his own reputation — tarnished during the theft trial — seem also to be behind the revelations.
In today’s Mirror, Burrell also told how he had called Diana's mobile phone on the night of her accident in Paris: “But it rang and rang and rang.”
Later, Prince Charles called him on behalf of a concerned Queen. “He told me: ‘Her Majesty is very concerned about you Paul, as are William and Harry.”
Burrell’s revelations today were considerably lower-key than his first interview on Wednesday, in which he told of the Queen’s fears about unknown “powers at work in this country”.