Excerpt: A Royal Duty

ByABC News via logo
October 27, 2003, 7:09 PM

Oct. 27 -- Paul Burrell was Princess Diana's butler, but he was also her confidant. In A Royal Duty, Burrell reveals new truths about Diana, and gives insight into the complexities of life in the royal family. In the preface, he describes the last time he saw her.

PrefaceTHE PRINCESS DIED at 4 A.M. in a hospital in Paris on Sunday, August 31, 1997. The last time I saw her, she was waving goodbye from the back of her BMW, being driven away from Kensington Palace on Friday, August 15.

The previous day, we had been to Waterstone's bookstore in Kensington High Street. We drove because time was tight, and because we didn't fancy walking back with what she called her "heavy reading matter": half a dozen books on spirituality, psychology, and healing. Then we headed back to the palace so she could finish her packing with assistance from her dresser, Angela Benjamin. As we turned into the palace drive, she was in a relaxed mood. "I'm looking forward to a quiet holiday, good company and lots of light reading!" Her friend Rosa Monckton had hired a yacht with a crew of four to sail her and the princess around the Greek islands on a six-day Aegean holiday.

When she returned, the princess was due to go on holiday with another female friend, Lana Marks, for five days in Italy, staying at the Four Seasons Hotel in Milan.

She had not intended to spend that final week of August with Dodi al- Fayed. Reservations had been made and flights booked for her to be with Lana. That holiday was canceled at the last minute because Lana's father died suddenly, which left the princess at loose ends until the boys returned to Kensington Palace on August 31. She accepted Dodi's substitute offer to spend time with him on his yacht, the Jonikal, cruising around the French Riviera and Sardinia.

Before she flew out to join Dodi, she would be back at the palace for one day, on August 21, but I wouldn't be there because I had deliberately booked my family holiday to Naas, in the Republic of Ireland, to coincide with the princess's. As she finished packing on August 15 to head off to the airport, I was sharing that happy pre-vacation feeling as I waited with Rosa inside KP.