- Royal butler Paul Burrell today opens the palace doors
on his sensational one-to-one summit with the Queen.
- Speaking for the first time, he gives a remarkable insight
into the three-hour meeting with the Queen at Buckingham Palace, which
led to the collapse of his Old Bailey trial last week.
- He tells how the Queen warned him about how his unique
closeness to Princess Diana left him exposed to people who wished him harm.
- Paul also tells how the Queen was desperate to build
bridges with Diana before she died.
- She told him: "I tried reaching out to her so many
- The Mirror also reveals full details of Paul's statement
to the police, who questioned him over items they claimed he had stolen
from the princess.
- Recalling the Queen's warning to him, Paul, 44, said:
"The Queen said 'Nobody, Paul has been as close to a member of my
family as you have. There are powers at work in this country about which
we have no knowledge'.
- "She did not quantify it but she told me to be careful.
- "She looked at me over her half-rimmed spectacles
as if she expected me to know the rest.
- "She fixed me with her eye and made sure I knew
she was being deadly serious.
- "I had no idea who she was talking about. There
were many she could have been referring to. But she was clearly warning
me to be vigilant."
- PAUL went on: "I had known her privately and personally
for many years as her footman. I'd seen her stare at people before. I knew
all her secrets and I knew how she liked to handle people. I knew what
all her stares meant.
- "I was left in no doubt what this one meant. She
meant: 'Be careful Paul...' "
- He added: "She wanted me to make sure my wife Maria
and children remained safe. It was not a threat, it was sound advice. She
had my interests at heart."
- Paul said the Queen's warning came out of the blue. "No-one
had never warned me like that.
- "It made me suddenly realise the magnitude of the
situation. It was obviously much, much bigger than I had ever thought."
- Paul recalls precisely what was said between them at
the meeting when he told the Queen he was keeping safe certain items from
- He told her: "I intend to protect the princess's
world and keep safe her secrets and I intend to keep documents and artefacts
which she had given to me."
- Paul told the Mirror: "Her Majesty listened to what
I had to say. She understood what I had to say. She did not object."
- That conversation, on a cold November day two months
after Diana's death in 1997, was the one the Queen recalled - the one that
destroyed the case of Regina v Paul Burrell.
- Paul said: "I had always wondered why...why was
the Royal Family not defending me? I had two years of thinking I had been
abandoned, wondering why they were letting this case happen."
- Paul then broke down as he said: "I thought I was
being fed to the lions. I just felt as if I was being persecuted, not prosecuted,
and everyone was standing by doing nothing."
- Fighting back the tears, his voice cracked as he added:
"I begged my legal team...to stop what was happening. I could see
the damage a court case could cause the Windsors. I never wanted it.
- "There were certain things that never should have
been said in a police statement or in court. It went against everything
I believed in. I could see the potential damage. Why couldn't everyone
- "But never in my wildest dreams did I think that
the Queen would intervene like she did."
- Paul was acquitted on theft charges last Friday.
- Paul said: "I broke down and just blurted out the
words 'The Queen's come through for me'."
- The royal meeting which halted the trial has led to speculation
that the Queen conveniently remembered the conversation just as Paul was
about to take the witness stand, armed with secrets which could embarrass
or damage the Windsors.
- There have been calls for a full inquiry. Prime Minister
Tony Blair has been drawn into the debate.
- BUT only two people know the truth about that crucial
meeting - the Queen and Paul. The Queen's version was told to the Old Bailey.
Now Paul Burrell is giving his in the Mirror.
- It is the account he never wanted to tell in court. The
conversation his own legal team were kept in the dark about until the 11th
- A one-to-one he would never have divulged - until the
moment the Queen stepped in. For a man conditioned by the religion of discretion
in the royal household, the reluctance to tell all was plain.
- As he spoke, he fiddled with his precious cufflinks marked
D for Diana.
- But he was passionate as he said: "I'm not having
the Queen's reputation destroyed, I'm not having it.
- "I'm not having her carrying the can for all this.
She is a woman of truth and honesty."
- Paul was the butler Diana called "My Rock".
But people forget that he was also the Queen's favourite footman for 11
- His fondness and admiration for her is as strong as his
loyalty to the princess. The majority of his summit with the Queen will
remain his secret. He said: "I've no wish to divulge the personal
nature of such an intimate conversation. I will say only what is appropriate
in the light of my trial.
- "The Prime Minister has had his say on the conversation,
the palace issued a statement about it and there has been much speculation.
But I am the only other person privy to the truth and now it's my turn."
- But the key questions over the saga have remained. Why
did it take so long for the details to emerge?
- And why on earth did he not tell his legal team about
the conversation earlier? Paul did not tell his barrister until Mrs Justice
Rafferty adjourned the trial before it collapsed. It was then that the
behind-the-scenes moves about the Queen's recollection started.
- It was as they were waiting that Paul told his QC Lord
Carlile of his meeting with the Queen. "He nearly fell off his chair,
but the truth is that its significance was lost on me.
- PAUL said: "In the royal household, it is unthinkable
to recount any conversation with Her Majesty.
- "My own barrister thought I was nuts. I told him
'No, I'm just loyal'.
- "That discretion put my own liberty at risk. But
I would do it again."
- The meeting with the Queen lasted from 2pm until 5pm.
Paul said: "It was a long meeting...but Her Majesty was riveted to
the spot by our conversation, in which neither of us seemed to draw breath."
- Paul had not seen the Queen in person since he left her
service in 1984 to join the Prince and Princess of Wales at Highgrove with
his housemaid wife Maria.
- He was telephoned at Kensington Palace as he worked on
an inventory of Diana's belongings.
- He said: "It was the Queen's page Paul Whybrow.
His exact words were 'The Queen would like to see you tomorrow. I'll let
the police know at the tradesman's entrance that you are expected'."
- Paul said: "I was relieved and excited about the
opportunity of being able to unburden myself.
- "Things had been weighing heavily on me and I was
desperate to tell someone. And who better to tell than my previous boss?"
- The next day, he went to the palace and went up in the
Queen's private lift to her apartment.
- He said: "Paul Whybrow met me there. He said: 'The
Queen is having lunch. She'll see you when she's finished coffee'."
- Paul eventually entered the Queen's private sitting room.
- "As I went in the Queen was standing there at her
desk. The desk was groaning with letters and her famous red boxes, which
were open and the government papers were strewn across the table. She appeared
very relaxed and friendly. Completely unguarded. Nine or 10 corgis were
strewn around the room.
- The Queen, with an outstretched welcoming hand, smiled.
I bowed and she said 'Hello Paul, how are you?' "
- Paul, who stood for the entire three hours, said: "One
does not sit when in the presence of Her Majesty at a private audience.
- "She told me 'Nobody, Paul, has been as close to
a member of my family as you have'."
- He added: "That closeness was something thrown into
question by the hell of his theft case. The Queen never doubted it."
- He took into that meeting his grave concerns about how
Diana's belongings were being treated by her family, the Spencers - the
friends who turned prosecution witnesses to testify against him. They wanted
to crush the Rock, he said.
- In the wake of Diana's death, Paul became the custodian
of her apartments - No 8 and No 9 at Kensington Palace.
- But what started out as a grim, heartbreaking task of
sifting through her belongings became a cause of serious concern.
- He often saw Diana's mother Mrs Frances Shand Kydd shredding
"volumes" of her daughter's personal papers and notes.
- It was a concern that he shared with the Queen and led
to the conversation which halted his trial.
- HE said: "I told the Queen I had important tasks
and duties to fulfil after the princess's death.
- "I felt it was my duty to tell her what I had witnessed
and what my intentions were.
- "What I had witnessed was, in my opinion, an attempt
to erase part of the princess's life and change history. I had seen her
mother shredding Diana's personal letters, which the princess had kept
- "This was being done by a woman who the princess
had refused to talk to or correspond with for six months and not four,
as she said in court.
- "I really felt that if the princess had wanted any
documents destroyed, she would have destroyed them herself with that shredder.
- "I thought it was my duty to protect those documents
and keep them safe."
- He went on: "I was not going to have the Spencers
erase important parts of Diana's life."
- Paul said he would never forget what the Queen had done.
- "She didn't forget me when it mattered most.
- "I thought I had been fed to the lions but, as it
turned out, I had the most powerful witness to come without ever knowing
- "That meeting with the Queen is a special memory
- "It was like talking to my mum. I walked away feeling
a huge burden had been lifted from me.
- "It had been an intense conversation,c but it ended
- "It ended with her saying 'I think it's about time
I took the dogs for a walk'.
- She took my hand and said: 'Take care'. I bowed and left