Diana's Butler: No hint of marriage plans

January 14, 2008 8:19:11 AM PST
Princess Diana gave no indication that she intended to marry Dodi Fayed and made no arrangements to announce an engagement before she died, her butler testified Monday at a coroner's inquest.

Paul Burrell, Diana's butler and confidant for a decade, said that if an announcement had been planned - as Fayed's father claims - he believes Diana would have put arrangements in place.

"I think she would have cleared the decks and made space, certainly in the week preceding the announcement," he told the court.

Burrell described Diana's romance with Fayed as a "30-day relationship," saying she was still recovering from the end of a secret two-year relationship with heart surgeon Hasnat Khan. In an interview published in British newspapers Sunday, Khan declined to discuss the reasons for the end of his relationship with Diana.

"The princess had just finished a long-term relationship with someone she cared deeply about," Burrell said. "I know that, because I was there. I saw it."

Burrell described Diana as being "on the rebound from that relationship when she met someone who was very kind and attentive and generous."

Burrell has previously disputed claims by Fayed's father, Mohamed Al Fayed, that Diana was pregnant with Fayed's child and that the couple were on the brink of announcing their engagement when they died in Paris on Aug. 31, 1997.

"I want another marriage like I want a bad rash," Burrell has quoted Diana as saying in a telephone conversation when she was with Fayed in France.

Diana's friend Annabel Goldsmith, who testified earlier, also reported Diana comparing marriage to an unwanted rash.

Al Fayed has also claimed that his son and Diana were the targets of a conspiracy directed by Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II.

Burrell said he had seen correspondence between Diana and Prince Philip in 1992, when efforts were being made to save her marriage to Prince Charles.

Diana's friend, self-described "energy healer" Simone Simmons, testified last week that she had seen two letters from Prince Philip that were "derogatory" and cruel, and which had upset the princess.

"Yes, they were sharp," Burrell said of the letters he saw. "Prince Philip doesn't mince his words, he says it as it is, but he is not a nasty man."

He added that Diana "didn't particularly like sometimes what she was told, but Prince Philip was always frank."

"The princess fired off equally as robust words to Prince Philip," Burrell said.

Burrell has said that after Diana's death the queen had warned him to be careful and told him, "There are powers at work in this country of which we have no knowledge."

He testified that he was unsure whether she referred to the media, the "establishment," or the secret services.

"One doesn't ask the queen what she means by something," Burrell said.

"I just think it was a general 'be careful' warning over many issues."

In 2003, Burrell disclosed a note, believed to have been written by the princess in 1995 or 1996, expressing her fear of being killed.

"I am sitting here at my desk today in October, longing for someone to hug me and encourage me to keep strong and hold my head high. This particular phase in my life is the most dangerous. My husband is planning `an accident' in my car, brake failure and serious head injury in order to make the path clear for Charles to marry...," the note said.

The note went on to claim that Charles wanted to marry Tiggy Legg-Bourke, his sons' nanny. In 2005, Charles married Camilla Parker Bowles, the woman Diana had publicly blamed for undermining her marriage to Charles.

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