Princess Diana’s butler Paul Burrell is refusing to comment on speculation his 32-year-old marriage is over in an exclusive interview in which he also talks about forthcoming TV projects and feeling misunderstood by the British public.
In recent days there has been tabloid gossip that Paul and his wife Maria are to divorce after tying the knot in 1984.
The ex-butler, who lives in Farndon where he runs his shop Paul Burrell Flowers, did not wish to go into detail about his relationship with Maria who lives in the US along with their two grown-up sons Alex and Nick.
“It’s a private matter between Maria and I. It’s no secret she lives in the States with the boys and I live here,” said Paul, who met Maria, a former maid to the Duke of Edinburgh , while they were both based at Buckingham Palace.
“I love England. I’m British and I’m very patriotic and I couldn’t live out of this country,” he told The Chronicle.
But Mr Burrell, who turns 58 next Monday, insists he is no hypocrite in insisting certain matters stay private despite his controversial memoir A Royal Duty about his time as butler to the Prince and Princess of Wales .
“I witnessed a great deal in all my time in royal service and I didn’t really tell you what went on behind-closed-doors because that’s between two people. I told you what Diana told you, that were three people in that marriage. I didn’t tell you what they did.
“I think it’s too low to launder other people’s dirty linen in public, that’s not who I am.”
Mr Burrell, who claims Diana referred to him as 'her rock', has also been linked to forthcoming TV shows with speculation he may be a contestant in the next series of the BBC ’s Strictly Come Dancing show but he is giving nothing away.
He explained: “I cannot say anything at the moment. When you sign the contracts to do these things it’s a condition that you are not allowed to do any publicity until they are ready to release it.
“There are definitely projects in the pipeline and you will be seeing more of me this year – whether you like it or not!”
The former butler is no stranger to reality TV having come runner-up to Joe Pasquale in I’m A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! in 2004. He has also appeared on Channel 4’s Celebrity Coach Trip. And he featured in the TV series Australian Princess and American Princess, in which he helped contestants learn high society manners as they transformed Cinderella-style from an ordinary girl into ‘a princess’.
Most recently he entered the Celebrity Big Brother house to boos from the crowd outside.
Why does he continue to seek the limelight given he is often portrayed as a controversial figure?
“I could disappear forever and have a very comfortable life but I would not be happy,” said Mr Burrell, who doesn’t usually read the stories about himself. For him, doing TV is harmless fun and he says the ‘pay cheques come in very handy’.
“I’ve got to pay the gas bill!” he joked. “It’s only a bit of fun and I don’t take it too seriously and I hope people on the other side don’t take it too seriously either.
“It’s a win-lose situation if you’re on TV. Your profile rises and they start to snoop into your private life.”
He continued: “I know I’m attached to an icon of our times and that icon isn’t going to go away so I don’t suppose I am really. I’m attached to her, like it or not. It’s double-edged sword which brings good and bad. I have to smile and just get on with my life.
“I’m not a celebrity. I have never considered myself to be a celebrity. I’m just a lucky guy in the right place at the right time.”
In closing remarks, Paul perhaps reveals the real reason why he insists on putting himself out there knowing the brick-bats will come flying his way.
“It’s to say to people that although I have been vilified in the media for so many years, that’s not the person who I am. And I want you to see who I am because who I am is a very different person. I think that’s the goal really."