Read an Excerpt of 'The Way We Were'
Sept. 12, 2006 — -- Paul Burrell's first book, "A Royal Duty," fueled worldwide speculation about the late Princess Diana.
In his new tell-all book, "The Way We Were," Diana's former butler and confidant reveals the princess only he knew.
Burrell throws open the gates to Kensington Palace and gives readers a tour of the princess' home, complete with previously unseen photographs.
He details Diana's Hollywood relationships and her sisterhood with Sarah Ferguson, and sheds light on the true nature of her romance with Dodi Al Fayed.
In stores today, "The Way We Were" offers a rare glimpse of Diana in her private world.
The gold Yale key turned in the lock, and my stomachlurched as the back door of Kensington Palace opened.I stepped inside and walked forward, as the heavy black doorslammed behind me, sending an echo throughout the emptinessthat lay ahead. It was as dark and gloomy as ever in thatpart of the palace so I flicked the light switch. Nothing happened.The bulb must have blown, I thought.
Then I looked up to the ceiling and saw that the entire lightfixture had been ripped out, leaving only dangling wires. Iwalked on, my footsteps echoing, to what had been the engineroom of the 'home' I called KP, where tradesmen, staff anddeliverymen had once busied themselves. I was in the middle ofthe lobby, once filled with the buzz of the refrigerator, thewhirr of the ice-making machine, the swish of the dishwasher,the chatter of people coming and going. Now there was a void.The mail pigeon-holes were empty; black garbage bags, emptydrawers and chairs lay about, discarded. KP looked as if ithad been ransacked by thieves. Apartments 8 and 9 had beenreduced to a shell, there wasn't a single hook for my memories.
It was 2002, and I had gone back to the apartments ofDiana, Princess of Wales for the first time since I had left themin July 1998 when, even then, they were being emptied. Finefurniture was transferred to the Royal Collection. Jewellerywas returned to Buckingham Palace. As the family was entitledto do, Princes William and Harry and the Spencer family hadtaken some items, and the Crown Estates had reclaimed theproperty. On the day I moved out, 24 July 1998, the apartmentswere being stripped. It was too painful for me towitness. I wanted to leave with a mental picture of what hadbeen, dismissing the reality of what was taking place.In the ensuing four years I steered clear of the palace.I never imagined I'd ever see the day when I'd need to go back.
I didn't want to go back. But it became necessary to return'home' when Scotland Yard and the CPS charged me withtheft from the boss's estate – the system's response to my spontaneousprotection of her legacy. In preparation for my OldBailey trial, which ended in acquittal in 2002, I had to walkmy legal team through the palace to build up a picture of whatlife, and my role, had been like.
That day, accompanied by my barrister Lord Carlile, QC,and solicitor Andrew Shaw, I steeled myself for what I knewI would see – the dismantling of the princess's world had longbeen complete. But I was still unprepared for the devastatingscene of erasure and decay that confronted me when I walkedup the main staircase, then went from room to room. Eachhad been stripped with a disregard that said everything abouthow the princess had been treated in life.
Nothing had been respected. Workmen had moved in,ripping up carpets, tearing down the silk wall panels that haddecorated the drawing room and sitting room, leaving thedoors of fitted cupboards hanging off their hinges. Even plugsockets had been removed. There were horizontal gaps wherethe odd floorboard had been pulled up and left proppedagainst a wall. Newspapers were scattered on the floor. A bluemattress was propped against one wall. Junk lay everywhere.And it was dirty. It seemed that the place hadn't been cleanedin the four years since 1998. A layer of dust covered the oncepolished banisters, giant cobwebs were spun round grubbycornices, and the air was musty. A once pristine home wasnow as dark and unhealthy as Charles Dickens had depictedSatis House in Great Expectations.
Those with no reason to care about the princess's world, andthe devastation I saw, might have shrugged and said, "Well,she's dead. It's time to move on. Who cares?" But moving onshouldn't mean forgetting.
I could have cried as I walked round those rooms. It was astark illustration of how quickly some people had wanted toforget her, how eager some people were to remove everyvestige of her.
It also represented a lost opportunity. A potential museumof memories had been wrecked.
After Princess Margaret's death in 2002, the administrationof her home, Apartment 1A, was transferred to the care ofHistoric Royal Palaces so that part of her living quarters couldbe viewed for educational and exhibition purposes. Today,although the place has been stripped of its furniture, the publichas the chance to visualize Princess Margaret's life, and studythe photographs of her. Would it not have been possible to dothe same with Apartments 8 and 9 five years earlier?Also, when the Queen Mother died in 2002, the Prince ofWales ensured that there was a fitting tribute to his grandmother:he arranged for the World of Interiors magazine tophotograph the inside of her home to show how she had lived;to capture her way of life, her tastes and style, for posterity. Itwas published in October 2003.
That is why I've decided to share with you my photographs,taken inside Apartments 8 and 9.
I took them, with my own camera, in the weeks after theprincess's death, for purely sentimental reasons – to preservewhat had been a special place to me. They also catalogued theprecise location of her possessions, which was useful to me inmy role as guardian of her world.
Over the years, the photographs have been a comfort, andhave helped me remember details and moments that might haveblurred with time. Many people from around the world havewritten to me, or asked me face to face, what life was like withthe boss, how she lived, and what her inner sanctum reallylooked like. Well, the photographs in this book provide theanswer; you will enjoy a virtual tour of Apartments 8 and 9.They show the rooms as she left them.
Today, Apartment 9, which housed the princess's bedroom,bathroom, dressing room, wardrobe rooms and part of thenursery, provides accommodation for members of the Queen'shousehold. But Apartment 8 – the main staircase, sittingroom, drawing room, dining room, kitchen and my pantry –remains a shell. I hope my photographs recapture the spirit ofthis home and offer a vivid image of what life was like withthe boss. Her private rooms deserve to be remembered for thevibrancy, drama, laughter, tears and magic of a life lived tothe full. That is why, as butler to that residence, I'm openingthe doors to show you around. This is the way we were . . .She called the walled garden her 'little oasis', her place ofescape and solitude. There was only one key to the blackdoor set in the surrounding brickwork and, as the resident ofApartments 8 and 9, the princess had exclusive access, sharedwith me and the gardener. It was the only set of four wallsbehind which she found complete relaxation and sanctuary,with the sky as a roof.
Almost a decade since her death, my memories of thatgarden, and life at KP, are as vivid as ever. If I close my eyes,my mind evokes those special years of duty between 1993 and1997. Her garden was scented, with roses of all colours climbinghalf-way up the ten-foot-high walls. There was a floweringcherry, a pergola in one corner, a long, rectangular lawn witha wide border, a central oak in which squirrels nested, apotting shed and a dilapidated old greenhouse.
In summer, on blazing hot days, I knew the routine. I can seeher now, in a pair of shorts and a vest, and wearing her Versacesunglasses, almost skipping out of the front door, with a palebluewicker basket filled with correspondence, books, CDs, aWalkman, a low-factor Clarins suncream and her mobile phone.She never went anywhere without her phone.
Then she'd settle down with her hair tied back. When shewas relaxing, in the garden, in the sitting room before bedtimeor at breakfast, she scraped back her blonde hair with an elasticatedcloth band. She had several, in black, blue and purple.If the world remembers the princess for her signature hairstyle,I remember her for that band! Sometimes, as she talkedon the phone, that hairband would be wrapped round herfingers, and she'd toy with it, then put it back on her head.I never joined the boss in the garden. It was her privatetime. When that black door swung shut, she was alone, as shewanted to be. Often, she returned to KP with a bunch of rosesfor a vase on her desk. She never stayed out there long, maybean hour or two. She was too restless to keep still for longer thanthat. As much as she portrayed herself as a sun-worshipper,she was too impatient to lie immobile for long. The sun-bed,in half-hour bursts, was more her cup of tea.
If the garden was her sanctuary, Apartments 8 and 9 werethe home that was filled with the laughter of the young princesWilliam and Harry, but also the tears and sadness of the boss'swell-documented personal strife. The entrance was a set ofblack double doors, flanked by two giant wooden planters.
One day in early spring, I decided to fill them with rows ofhyacinths, like the ones at Windsor Castle planted round theQueen's private entrance, called the 'dog door', because HerMajesty used it when she walked her corgis. In my elevenyears' service as footman to the Queen – from 1976 to 1987 –the gardeners at Windsor planted row upon row of bluehyacinths, to flower around Easter time, and I was met by theirheavenly scent each time I was on corgi-walking duty – up toeight times a day. Those dogs never tired of walks! I supposeI planted the hyacinths because I thought that the scent wouldbe a lovely welcome for visitors to KP. Except one visitordidn't agree. When Prince Charles saw what I had done, hechastised me. He told me it was far too early to plant hyacinthsoutside. "It's such a waste, Paul!" he said.
And, of course, he was right. What the prince didn't knowabout plants and gardening could have been written on theback of his mother's head – on a British postage stamp. I hadwitnessed his skills in the garden many times during my serviceas butler to the Prince and Princess of Wales at Highgrove,from 1987 to 1993, so I knew he was talking sense, even if hismanner was somewhat brusque. Not that I was going to givehim the satisfaction of watching me dig the bulbs out. Instead,each night for the next month, I covered them up with an oldbed-sheet to protect them from the frost. I did it my way –
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