Butler: Diana Planned Move to Malibu

ByABC News via via logo

Oct. 29, 2003 -- Princess Diana had been planning to start a new life in California just before she died and had already picked out a home in Malibu for herself and her two sons, her former butler says.

Paul Burrell, who reveals many of Diana's intimate secrets in his new book, A Royal Duty, says the princess hoped to find comfort and freedom in America. He said she wanted to move into actress Julie Andrews' old home along with Prince William and Prince Harry.

"A lovely house … saw all the plans for it. It was going to be in Malibu," Burrell said today in an interview with Charlie Gibson on ABCNEWS' Good Morning America.

"I saw the plans," he said. "We sat on the floor, spread out all the maps and the layout of the house."

Burrell said the princess thought she and her sons would have a better life in California.

"She said, 'This is our new life, just won't it be great, think of the lifestyle the boys — nobody's judgmental here in America, you don't have the class system, you don't have the establishment,' " Burrell said.

The ex-butler says he believed the princess's plans were very realistic. The princess shared custody of the boys with their father, Prince Charles, and William and Harry are second and third in line to the throne, but Burrell says the royal family wouldn't have tried to stop her.

"She's [Princess Diana] not going to be king. Neither are her kids going to be queens. Why couldn't they come and spend a portion of their time in America? That would be very stiff and staunchy if the queen would say, 'No, they can't go to America,' " Burrell said.

But as the princess was looking forward to a sunnier life in Malibu, according to Burrell, she was still suffering on the inside.The former butler said Diana continued to battle with bulimia up until her death.

"No, it's a difficult thing to shake off. It reoccurs. It comes back. I just witnessed it, I saw it comes back," he said.

Burrell said the princess struggled with the eating disorder during particularly stressful moments of her life.Burrell says Diana wasn't planning on moving to California in order to pursue an acting career, although Kevin Costner had suggested she appear in a proposed sequel to his film The Bodyguard.

Burrell said Diana had a good laugh over that.

"He [Costner] rang up and said, 'How would you like to be in my next film?' She was rolling on the floor giggling, 'Sorry, I can't act,' " Burrell said. "He said, 'Don't worry, I'll teach you.' "

The princess' sons released a statement last week denouncing Burrell's book and his recent interviews as a "cold and overt betrayal." Prince William, 21, plans to meet with Burrell to discuss the royal family's anger over the former butler's book.

Burrell had earlier expressed anger over the young princes' reaction, but he said on Good Morning America that he has compassion for William and Harry because of the way their mother's estate is being handled.

In his book, Burrell says William never wanted his mother's wedding dress to be sent to the Althorp Museum at the Spencer family home, but he never had a say in the matter.

"They have not inherited their mother's estate yet, so in the meantime guess who's in charge?" said Burrell. "The Spencers."

Burrell said that Diana's brother, Earl Spencer, was not close to the princess in the last 10 years of her life.

He said the princess had wanted to live at her family's estate, but her brother said no.

"It was his flesh and blood, for goodness' sakes," Burrell said. "He found a place for her when she died, but he couldn't find a place for her when she was alive." Burrell says he's also upset about Diana's final resting place on an island on the grounds of her family's stately home. The former butler says he believes it would be more appropriate for the princess to be buried in a place where people could gather around her all of the time.

"I don't like to think of her there lonely, by herself, cold on that island," Burrell said. "I'd like to think of her in a public place where people could actually gather 'round and talk. In the middle of Parliament Square … the middle of Times Square."

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