By Emma Dooney
The Queen saved a close friend of Princess Diana’s from a serious criminal conviction after she remembered a key conversation with the accused.
- A former royal butler was charged with stealing from Princess Diana following her death, despite insisting he had permission to keep her possessions.
- Paul Burrell, who had been a close friend to Diana, was facing a lengthy prison sentence when the Queen stepped forward with a life-saving piece of evidence.
- In other Royal News, a new book reveals Prince William wrote an angry letter to the paparazzi to protect Kate's privacy.
The Queen saved Princess Diana's friend from prison - simply by sharing one distant memory.
In an unprecedented move, Her Majesty used her monarchical powers to intervene in the 2002 court case of Paul Burrell, after he was charged with stealing from the late Princess of Wales.
The former royal butler’s ordeal began when he objected to the princess’s family’s wish to destroy her possessions following her tragic death in 1997. As a close confidant to Lady Diana for over ten years, Paul did not believe she would have approved of this approach.
He insisted that her belongings should be safeguarded for her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, to have when they were older.
In June 1998, he was spotted by police entering Buckingham Palace at 3.30am and emerging with a mahogany box and two dresses. Three years later, during an investigation into the unlawful sale of Princess Diana’s possessions in the US, Paul’s Cheshire home was raided by authorities.
Police found over 300 items belonging to the late princess, including a writing desk, a Versace dress, and personal letters. Despite his insistence that Princess Diana had wanted him to take them, he was arrested and charged with theft.
"When the police came to my family home that day, the bottom of my world fell out,” Paul said on Channel 5’s Secrets of the Royal Palaces. "I felt completely helpless and hopeless."
More from woman&home:
• Best running shoes for women for casual jogs, long runs, and beautiful trails
• Best vibrator for a buzz alone or with your partner
• Best yoga mats for beginners, better balance and meditation
Paul was suddenly facing a lengthy prison sentence - a reality he couldn’t fathom following decades of royal service. “I was heading straight to prison,” he said, after explaining that nobody bought his defense that he was rightfully protecting Diana’s possessions for her children.
"The police wanted my head on a spike. They wanted me in prison because then I would have never been believed again."
But just when he thought the game was over, a major player arrived on the scene. The Queen came forward with a piece of evidence that completely shifted the trial in his favour. Her Majesty had a memory of her conversation with Paul about Diana following her death, in which he explained he was keeping her possessions for safeguarding.
"We were standing in her sitting room, just the two of us, and we had an open and frank discussion,” Paul recalled on Channel 5.
"I told her everything that had happened. I said I had taken it upon myself to keep things the princess had given to me for safekeeping, and I've protected them."
"She understood that."
After she was made aware of Paul’s charges, the Queen brought this information to the court. The evidence, which showed that Her Majesty had approved of Diana’s former butler’s actions, was enough to collapse the entire trial.
“I couldn't believe that I was free to walk out of the Old Bailey instead of into a prison sentence,” Paul revealed.
Some might wonder why Paul hadn’t shared the conversation with the Queen with his defence team. Unfortunately, revealing details of a private discussion with a monarch defies royal protocol. Whether the sovereign divulges what was said is entirely up to them, meaning Paul had no choice but to hope and pray for the Queen’s intervention.
“She saved me from what I thought was my fate,” he said. “I think she saved me because she knew me, and I was her boy for 11 years.”
Paul believes Her Majesty ‘cared’ about his future after watching him grow and start his own family. The former royal staffer has shared multiple tidbits on the Queen in the past, including her love of household chores and her close relationship with Prince Philip. He is rumoured to soon star in a new series called ‘From Servant to Celebrity’, which will explore his journey from royal butler to national celebrity.
Emma is a news writer for woman&home and My Imperfect Life. She covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health or lifestyle story. When she's not reporting on the British monarchy and A-list celebs, you can find her whipping up vegan treats and running the roads to cheesy '90s pop music...but not at the same time, obviously.
How to clean a glass stovetop for a mirror-like shine
Follow our easy guide on how to clean a glass stovetop and keep it sparkling, without any damage
By Amy Hunt •
These iconic makeup looks from every decade still resonate today
In recent history, some iconic makeup looks have lasted the test of time and still complement any complexion
By Emma Stoddart •
Meghan Markle is one of the world's most famous faces—this is her journey from child campaigner to Duchess of Sussex
Meghan Markle made her name before marrying Prince Harry—and has never stopped standing up for what she believes in
By Georgia Farquharson •
Prince Charles reveals exciting new TV project with Amazon Prime
Prince Charles is once again showing he's a hard-working royal with upcoming project that's a total game changer
By Aoife Hanna •
Princess Anne shows her real self with her grandchildren, says body language expert
Princess Anne might be very composed and formal at public engagements but her behavior with her five grandchildren shows a very different image
By Aoife Hanna •
Meghan Markle gives first ever update on baby Lilibet during NYC trip
Meghan Markle has finally spoken about her baby daughter Lilibet during a public outing in New York City
By Aoife Hanna •
Best Halloween movies on Netflix 2021 to watch right now
Get in the holiday spirit with some of the spookiest films on Netflix
By Rylee Johnston •
Sarah Jessica Parker's heartbreaking tribute to her friend of 30 years, Willie Garson who died aged 57
Sarah Jessica Parker was too upset to speak out initially, revealing 'It's been unbearable'
By Aoife Hanna •
Derry Girls Season 3 filming gets the green light—everything you need to know
Derry Girls Season 3 is finally underway after a long hiatus
By Emma Dooney •
How women helped shape Halloween history with 2000-year-old traditions
Women have long played an important role in the spooky autumn festival
By Emma Dooney •