LONDON (Reuters) - Princess Diana’s former butler told the inquest into her death on Monday that her mother had called her a whore for dating Muslim men.
Paul Burrell said Diana broke off relations with her mother, Frances Shand Kydd, after she had “expressed herself in extremely forceful terms about Diana’s consorts, especially if they were Muslim”.
Burrell, revealing the contents of a call Diana asked him to listen into, said Shand Kydd, who died in 2004, “called the Princess a whore and she said that she was messing around with f-ing Muslim men and she was disgraceful and said some very nasty things”.
Diana was killed in a high-speed Paris car crash in August 1997 with her lover Dodi al-Fayed. She had previously had a relationship with heart surgeon Hasnat Khan.
Burrell has written two books about his time as the princess’s butler and his memoirs have been serialized extensively in the tabloid press.
Speaking to a packed court, Burrell said he was convinced Britain’s Royal family did not plot to kill her, an accusation leveled at the House of Windsor by Dodi’s father, Harrods department store owner Mohamed al-Fayed.
He said Diana had been considering “a private marriage” to Khan before they broke up and disputed claims she was getting engaged to Dodi al-Fayed.
Dodi’s father alleges that Dodi and Diana were killed by British security services on the orders of Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth’s husband and Diana’s former father-in-law.
Fayed believes her killing was ordered because the royal family did not want the mother of the future king having a child with his son. He alleges that Diana’s body was embalmed to cover up evidence she was expecting a baby.
But in extensive testimony to the inquest into Dodi and Diana’s deaths, the butler who has described himself as “Diana’s rock” consistently refuted all conspiracy theories.
Asked about accusations that her father-in-law could have plotted Diana’s death, Burrell told the court: “Prince Philip is not a nasty man.”
“The princess was the mother of his grandchildren. Why would he want to harm her? It’s not possible.”
Asked about letters between Philip and Diana when her marriage to Prince Charles was crumbling, Burrell said: “Prince Philip is not known for diplomacy but he certainly wouldn’t have written nasty notes to the princess. He was fond of the princess.”
A handwritten note from Diana was produced in court in which she expressed fears that heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles was “planning an accident in my car, brake failure and serious head injury”.
Burrell said: “I don’t believe that Prince Charles was capable of murdering the princess.”
Asked if Diana had contemplated marriage to Hasnat Khan, Burrell said: “Yes, she did.”
“She asked me if it was possible to arrange a private marriage between her and Hasnat Khan,” Burrell said. He approached a Roman Catholic priest in London about the possible arrangements.
But Diana’s affair with Khan ended with the surgeon unable to cope with the possibility of living under a remorseless media spotlight with the world’s most photographed woman.
Asked about her summer romance with Dodi al-Fayed, Burrell said: “I think the princess was still burning a candle for Mr Khan.”
“The princess said he (Khan) was her soul mate. This was the man she loved more than any other,” Burrell told the court.
Burrell said Dodi had given Diana a gold Bulgari ring -- but it was a friendship ring and not an engagement ring.
Asked if he thought the couple had engagement plans, Burrell said: “I find that difficult to believe. This was only a 30-day relationship and the princess had just finished a long-term relationship with someone she cared very deeply about.”
Editing by Giles Elgood
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