Butler says royals could have stopped Diana book by paying some attention

Monday, October 27th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LONDON (AP) _ Paul Burrell, the former butler condemned by princes and much of the press for his tell-all book about Princess Diana, says the royal family could have stopped the project simply by giving him more attention.

``Just one telephone call would have stopped it, one. Is that too much too ask _ really?'' Burrell said in an interview to be broadcast Monday by British Broadcasting Corp. TV.

Charges and countercharges over the weekend gave a final burst of publicity for the book, ``A Royal Duty,'' which goes on sale in Britain on Monday.

Princess Diana's friends have called Burrell a vulture for exploiting his connection to Diana. Her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, issued a statement Friday accusing him of a ``cold and overt betrayal.''

The former butler, however, complained that the princes _ and the royal family in general _ gave him little support when he was put on trial last year for allegedly stealing some of Diana's possessions. He was acquitted after Queen Elizabeth II confirmed that Burrell had told her he was holding some items for safekeeping.

``It would have been a very different world if the telephone had rung and the boys had said `Oh Paul we're sorry we couldn't help you during your trial, we just couldn't our hands were tied. Why don't you come down to London with Maria (his wife) and the boys and we'll do something?''' Burrell told the BBC.

He added that he felt angry with William and Harry.

``Why do they listen to other people around them?'' Burrell said. ``Why listen to people who always say yes and no one tells you no? I'd love to give them a piece of my mind.''

He said he has accepted an offer by the princes to meet him, but did not say when. He also did not rule out writing another book detailing more of the secrets he shared with Diana.

``I have no plans at this moment in time to write another book, but I don't know what the future holds do I?'' he told BBC radio. ``I didn't six years ago and I don't now.''

The Daily Mirror's serialization of the book gave millions of readers his intimate view of Diana's life, including private letters from her former father-in-law, Prince Philip, and her brother, Earl Spencer.

Rosa Monckton, one of Diana's closest friends, wrote in The Sunday Telegraph that Burrell knew well how the princess was hounded during her life, ``and yet now he joins the rest of the vultures who had the task of looking after her, in picking over the bones of her existence in his book.''

Vivienne Parry, another friend and a former trustee of Princess Diana's memorial fund, described Burrell's book as ``cynical.''

``I think there has been no wrestling with his conscience, the only thing he has been wrestling with is which letter to draw from the capacious file marked 'P' for pension plan,'' Parry told the BBC on Sunday.