“There were three of us in that relationship,” Paul Burrell tells HuffPostUK, with a grin.
He is referring to the secret love affair of Diana, Princess of Wales and heart surgeon Hasnat Khan, whose torrid romance during the last two years of the princess’s life is explored in ‘Diana’, released in the UK this week.
Paul ‘The Rock’ Burrell describes his ringside seat in this chapter of royal history...
“I was the third party. I was a necessary tool as a go-between. I could hop into both worlds. I could have a pint in the pub with Hasnat, and a cup of coffee at breakfast with the princess in the morning, and switch between the two worlds, and be useful to both parties.
“People undervalue the power of a butler, because he runs the show. I wouldn’t want a butler, I wouldn’t want him knowing everything.”
Paul Burrell served as butler to Princess Diana and was privy to much of her personal life
Burrell, who served the Princess both as a new wife, and later as she became the world’s most high-profile divorcee, claims he feels sorry for Khan, for whom, “the burden has outweighed the pleasure. He lost the love of his life, and that’s a very hard thing to come to terms with.”
But, despite his prominent role in the story depicted in ‘Diana’, Burrell says he won’t be going to see the film.
“I don’t feel the need to see the movie, because I was there. How can it tell me anything? It can’t tell me anything I don’t already know. And it may not be accurate.”
It’s the same reason he hasn’t read of any of the hundreds of books written about the Princess since her death in 1997. Nor, it seems, will he be putting pen to paper himself again.
“I will never write anything more about Diana. It’s done. It had to be done at that time to clear my name, you’d never heard what I thought, and to defend Diana’s memory, because lots of stories were circulating at that time that weren’t true, and also financially to protect my future. So, I’m done and dusted.
Paul Burrell's criminal court trial for stealing some of the Princess's possessions was famously stopped when HM The Queen intervened in 2002
Burrell, who served the Queen as a butler before moving to Diana’s side, remains an ardent royalist, however, full of praise for Princes William and Harry. And it’s why he’s taken part in ‘Superstars and Superfans’, where he invites a pair of keen court followers into his home, and visits theirs in return.
“Superfans isn’t about me,” he explains. “I’m not really a celebrity. I’m maybe recognisable walking down the street, but I’m just an ordinary man thrown into extraordinary circumstances, which is why other people have related to it.
“My two fans are really Diana fans, living vicariously through me, looking through my window into Diana world. I’m the nearest they can get. They can’t get to William and Harry, but they can get to me. I was their butler for the day, I set the table, served the champagne, and we took it from there… now they belong in my world, they’re not just fans, they’re friends.”
See our clip below…
Apart from this foray back into the limelight, Burrell says he’s finally found peace, running his flower shop in Cheshire – “only people who like me come into the shop, so it’s a far more peaceful life these days,” he explains.
And the man who stood vigil by the dead Princess in Paris has a favourite duty there, too. “I like funerals best,” he reveals. “I love doing something expressive and something artistic, something they’ve never seen before. I often go to the funeral parlour and do it there, because this is the last tribute you’re going to make for your loved one, so I like it to be special, that’s who I am.”
Burrell with his 'Superfans' in the TLC series - "they're part of my world now"
Burrell says there’s a part of him that will always remain ‘on duty’ as Diana’s butler, as the keeper of the flame.
“I don’t think I’ve ever grieved, because she’s still with me.
“I’m old fashioned. I truly believe that when you’ve been touched by someone that special, the icon of our age, and they leave you, you carry them with you for the rest of your life. Why would I want to leave her behind me?
“It’s a privilege. I don’t do it all the time, I’m not a fan, I know what they look like. For me, it’s my duty. It’s carrying on, and she’ll always be with me."
However, Burrell knows, too, that, whatever controversies and revelations can still be eeked out by film producers and journalists, the royals and their fans have moved on.
“It never happened when Kate and William got married, I didn’t feel much other than happiness for them,” he reflects.
“But when the baby George was born, it was totally different. I have a small picture in my little flower shop of Diana and me, and I said to her, ‘We’re history now.’”
Paul Burrell appears in ‘Superstars and Superfans’ tonight, at 10pm on TLC channel. 'Diana' the movie is in cinemas from Friday 20 September. Watch our clip of 'Superstars and Superfans' with Paul Burrell below...Suggest a correction