Books in Review
by Adrienne Petterson 2004

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A Royal Duty
by Paul Burrell
G.P. Putnam's Sons
ISBN 0-399-15172-9
Published October 2003 - Hardcover - 406 pages

This book is as a result of royal butler Paul Burrell's arrest in January 2001 on suspicion of taking a piece of Princess Diana's personal jewelry.  It is a fascinating insight to the staff intricacies at Buckingham Palace, as well as into the lives of some of the Royal Family, by someone who was right in the thick of things.  Burrell was a footman to the Queen for 10 years and was around when the young Lady Diana first surfaced.  He married palace worker Maria Cosgrove and then left for Highgrove, the weekend home of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, as their butler.  Burrell's two children grew up playing with the young princes William and Harry and he and his wife became closer to Princess Diana and subsequently left to become her butler when she and Prince Charles separated and Diana went to live at Kensington Palace in London.  He tells of Diana's need to confide in someone and she began trusting him more and more.  He witnessed many goings-on, both at home and abroad, and her desperate need to be herself when her husband was living his own life.  He touches on most aspects of the princess' life with respect and dignity.  He was by her side when she made her TV program and admitted adultry (after Prince Charles had done exactly the same) and finally through her very public divorce.  He also mentions her (and other royals) generosity and their passing on of gifts of appreciation over the years.  With the press charting her every move, guessing her thoughts and conversations, the public never really got the whole story.  Burrell, having spent so much time with the princess, paints a believable and rather sad picture of the woman the world came to love.  He also makes very clear the relationship Princess Diana had (or not) with her own family.  Whether you loved or hated her, you had to admire her.  Not only for her beauty but for her exceptionally compassionate heart.  The princess wrote Burrell a prophetic letter the year preceding her death where she expressed her fear at being in an arranged "accident".
Conclusion - A most enlightening and very enjoyable, if not sad book.  One I have been waiting for as I grew bored with media speculation.
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Review copy not supplied by publisher - library copy reviewed.


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