Diana's Butler: I'm Very Loyal

ByABC News
November 14, 2002, 3:00 PM

— -- Nov. 18

Paul Burrell, the former butler who is at the center of recent revelations about Princess Diana and members of the royal household, says he never intended to reveal any of the secrets he accumulated in two decades of royal service.

"I do keep secrets. I'm very loyal I have never spoken about intimate details of privacies which I've been trusted with. Never," he told 20/20's Elizabeth Vargas in an exclusive interview airing Monday night.

Burrell, who was a butler in Princess Diana's service from 1988 until her death in 1997, says that the cycle of revelations was set in motion when he was arrested in January 2001 for allegedly stealing more than 300 items from the princess and other members of the royal family.

"I lost control of my world when the police knocked on my door on that morning and they took over and suddenly felt myself helpless to protect her, helpless to protect what I had kept safe for so long," he said.

Burrell, 44, was put on trial for the alleged theft last month, but the trial collapsed the day before he was due to testify, when Queen Elizabeth II said she remembered having a conversation with Burrell in December 1997, four months after Diana's death, in which he told her he was holding some of the princess's private possessions for safekeeping. (Burrell had been a footman for the queen before working for Princess Diana.) Prosecutors, who had maintained that Burrell told no one about taking the items, dropped the charges.

Says Document Was Leaked Without His Knowledge

The first wave of embarrassing disclosures about palace life came during the trial, when jurors heard, among other things, that Diana had kept an audiotape on which a male palace employee accused another male staff member of raping him. The judge had barred disclosure of other details about the princess because of concern for Diana's sons, the royal princes, according to Burrell.

But the most salacious reports about Princess Diana came after the trial when a British tabloid, the Sun, published information it said came from a statement Burrell made to police. The newspaper's Nov. 5 report said Burrell had admitted smuggling Diana's lovers into the princess's official residence, Kensington Palace, and said that she once went out to meet one of her lovers, cardiac surgeon Hasnant Khan, clad only in a fur coat and diamond and sapphire earrings. The Sun also quoted Burrell as saying Diana had begged Khan to marry her, and that she had sometimes given cash handouts to help prostitutes working on London's streets.