Paul Burrell

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Paul Burrell
Born (1958-06-06) 6 June 1958 (age 61)
OccupationButler to the British Royal Household
Media personality
Maria Cosgrove
(m. 1983; div. 2016)

Graham Cooper (m. 2017)

Paul Burrell, RVM (born (1958-06-06)6 June 1958) is a former servant of the British Royal Household. He was a footman for Queen Elizabeth II and later butler to Diana, Princess of Wales. Since her death in 1997, Burrell has featured prominently in the media in connection with her, and since 2004 as an occasional entertainment show celebrity.

Burrell was awarded the Royal Victorian Medal in November 1997 for services to the Royal Family.

Background and career in the Royal Household[edit]

Burrell was raised in Grassmoor, Derbyshire, a coal-mining village. His father was a lorry driver and it was initially assumed that Burrell would go to work in the local colliery, but he had decided aged eight years that he wanted to work at Buckingham Palace after a trip to London with his family, where he witnessed the Changing of the Guard.[2] He attended William Rhodes Secondary School in Chesterfield and left, aged 16, with six O-Levels before attending High Peak College in Buxton where he studied hotel management.[2]

Burrell entered Royal Service at age 18, as a Buckingham Palace footman, becoming the Queen's personal footman a year later. He was nicknamed "Small Paul", to distinguish him from a taller footman, Paul Whybrew, who was known as "Tall Paul".[2] According to Burrell's autobiography, he had received a simultaneous job offer from cruise line Cunard but his mother had burned it because "He'll chuff off on that boat and we'll never see him again".[2]

In 1987 Burrell joined the household of heir to the throne Charles and Diana at Highgrove House in Gloucestershire, where he acted as butler to the princess until her death in August 1997.[2] He was awarded the Royal Victorian Medal in November 1997 for services to the Royal Family.[3]

In 2001 Burrell opened a florist's in Farndon, Cheshire.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Burrell was married to Maria Cosgrove, who formerly worked for Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. The pair met while working in Buckingham Palace together. They have two sons, Alexander and Nicholas. When they married in 1983, established precedent dictated that one of them would have to give up their job with the Royal Family, but Queen Elizabeth II made an exception for them, allowing both to remain in Royal service. This situation earned them a measure of fame at the time.

In 2017, Burrell announced he was marrying his partner Graham Cooper.[5] They married on 2 April 2017 in Bowness, Lake District.

In July 2019, Burrell sold his florist shop in Farndon, Cheshire as a going concern[6] and retired to live with his husband in their 19th Century mock-Tudor house in Peckforton, Cheshire.[7]

Burrell is a fan of Wrexham Football Club[8] and St Helens Rugby Football Club.[9] His hobbies and pasttimes include travelling and painting churchyards[10] and other notable places where he frequented with Princess Diana. He is now an avid travel vlogger, broadcasting short social media video diaries from his travels around the world.

Diana, Princess of Wales[edit]

Burrell claimed that Diana, Princess of Wales, had described him as "the only man she ever trusted", although there is only Burrell's own writing to support this statement.[11] Books produced by Burrell state that she was very fond of him, and that she would describe him as her "rock", but her mother, Frances Shand Kydd, detested him and believed that he was "just another hanger-on grasping at Diana's celebrity".[12]

Events since the death of Diana, Princess of Wales[edit]

Royal Household and inquest related[edit]

Burrell has been routinely mentioned in the context of Diana and has gained a measure of notoriety in the media. At times the coverage has been adverse, for example in a 2002 case where he was charged with theft related to Diana's possessions. The trial collapsed after evidence was given that the Queen had spoken with him regarding disputed events, and a public-interest immunity (PII) certificate was presented by the Crown Prosecution Service on the basis that disclosure of certain information would be harmful to the public interest.[13][14]

In January 2008 Burrell appeared as a witness at the inquest into the death of Diana. Burrell said that he had approached a Catholic priest about a private marriage between Diana and the heart surgeon Dr Hasnat Khan,[15] and he rubbished rumours that Diana was about to announce her engagement to Dodi Fayed.[15] He was also questioned about a letter to him from Diana in October 1993, in which she said her husband was planning to have her killed to make the path clear for him to marry Camilla Parker-Bowles.[16][17] The coroner dismissed notions of a "secret" that Burrell knew about Diana that he swore he "would never reveal", as detailed at the end of his book, A Royal Duty.[15]

A number of other matters were discussed in relation to this case, many alleged and not proven. These included allegations of perjury at the coroner's court,[18][19][20] and allegations regarding his personal life.[21] Burrell stated he would not return to court for fear of being embarrassed and humiliated by the possible questioning.

On 18 February 2008, The Sun newspaper reported that Burrell had admitted, on tape, that he had not told "the whole truth" during his appearance at the Diana inquest; he also said he had thrown in a "few red herrings". Some reports suggested that Burrell could be charged with perjury.[22] The Sun said it was handing the tape to the court on 19 February 2008.[23]

Burrell received much criticism for copying Diana's letters and his integrity was called into question. The coroner, Lord Justice Scott Baker, said, "In the end there is an important issue as to the credibility of the witness."[24]


In 2003, Burrell released his memoir A Royal Duty, which follows his career as a member of the Royal Family's staff. It deals in detail with his time as butler to the Prince and Princess of Wales at Highgrove House in Gloucestershire, his move to Diana's staff at Kensington Palace after her divorce from Prince Charles, and Burrell's acquittal on theft charges. The book was an international best-seller, and was updated in a paperback edition in 2004. Its publication led to a rift with Buckingham Palace and Princes William and Harry accused Burrell of betraying their mother’s confidences. In a joint statement issued immediately before publication, they referred to the book as, "a cold and overt betrayal."[25]

Media career[edit]

On 21 November 2004, Burrell entered the fourth series of the ITV reality television show I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! he finished the show as runner-up on 6 December 2004.

Burrell was a judge and trainer on Australian Princess in 2005, and in March 2006, appeared on Countdown in Dictionary Corner.

In early 2006, he appeared as Richard Gere on ITV's Celebrity Stars in Their Eyes, singing "Razzle Dazzle" from Chicago, the film version of the Broadway musical.

In September 2006, Burrell appeared on Five's Trust Me – I'm a Holiday Rep, joining as a substitute for Samantha Rowley.

In September 2015, he appeared in Celebrity Big Brother as part of a shopping task.

In February 2017, Burrell and his house in Peckforton appeared in series 4, episode 7 of ITV's UK reality TV series Through the Keyhole with Keith Lemon.[26]

In August 2017, he appeared in Series 2 of the Channel 5 UK reality TV series In Therapy.


  • Entertaining with Style (1999)
  • In the Royal Manner: Butler to Diana (1999)
  • A Royal Duty (2003)
  • The Way We Were: Remembering Diana (2007)


  1. ^ 'No more hiding my unbridled happiness': Paul Burrell 'weeps with joy' as he marries boyfriend – The Telegraph
  2. ^ a b c d e Moore, Charles (2 November 2002). "From below-stairs servant to Hollywood darling". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  3. ^ Paul Burrell official website archive
  4. ^ Carmella de Lucia (13 October 2011). "Former royal butler Paul Burrell celebrates 10th anniversary of flower shop in Farndon". Northampton Chronicle and Echo. Retrieved 14 August 2014.
  5. ^ "Princess Diana's former butler Paul Burrell to marry his boyfriend after divorcing his wife last year". The Telegraph. Retrieved 7 March 2017.
  6. ^ Holmes, David (5 February 2019). "Paul Burrell puts his Farndon shop up for sale as he retires". chesterchronicle. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
  7. ^ Midgley, Dominic (8 March 2017). "Princess Diana: Keeper of her butler Paul Burrell's secrets". Retrieved 5 February 2020.
  8. ^ "The Leader - 'I'm a Celebrity' star and former Royal butler Paul Burrell back in Wrexham". Archived from the original on 11 March 2010. Retrieved 25 May 2014.
  9. ^ "Paul Burrell". BBC Wales. BBC. Archived from the original on 2 December 2002. Retrieved 8 March 2008.
  10. ^ "How this Bolton couple got two ex-Prime Ministers and Princess Diana's butler to be part of their wedding day celebrations". The Bolton News. Retrieved 6 February 2020.
  11. ^ Burrell, Paul (16 August 2007). "The Way We Were: Remembering Diana: Paul Burrell: Books". Chapters. Archived from the original on 22 July 2012. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
  12. ^ "Diana's mother expresses her fury at Burrell". Scotsman. UK. 4 September 2005.
  13. ^ "MPs criticise Queen over Burrell case", The Guardian, November 2002
  14. ^ "Queen's evidence clears Diana butler". The Guardian. 1 November 2002. Retrieved 31 July 2014.
  15. ^ a b c Diana considered marrying surgeon, says Burrell, The Guardian
  16. ^ "Diana affair over before crash" by Rosalind Ryan, The Guardian Online, 7 January 2008. Retrieved 4 February 2008.
  17. ^ "Princess Diana letter – 'Charles plans to kill me'" by Gordon Rayner, The Daily Telegraph Online, 20 December 2007. Retrieved 4 February 2008.
  18. ^ "Burrell refuses return to inquest". BBC News. 6 March 2008. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  19. ^ Powell, Robyn (6 March 2008). "Paul Burrell refuses to return to Diana inquest". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  20. ^ Pierce, Andrew (6 March 2008). "Paul Burrell may face perjury investigation over Diana inquest". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
  21. ^ Davies, Caroline (11 November 2002). "Burrell tried to seduce me, claims Barrymore". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 26 September 2019.
  22. ^ "Paul Burrell: Did He Tell Whole Truth At Diana Inquest?". Sky. Archived from the original on 22 May 2011. Retrieved 24 September 2010.
  23. ^ "Diana's butler faces probe of testimony". CNN. 19 February 2008. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  24. ^ Richard Edwards (16 January 2008). "Paul Burrell criticised for copying Diana letters". The Telegraph.
  25. ^ Davies, Caroline (24 October 2003). "'A cold and overt betrayal'". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
  26. ^ Gibb, Jessica (15 February 2017). "Paul Burrell reveals the VERY polite way the Queen eats a banana". mirror. Retrieved 5 February 2020.

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