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NYIT Welcomes Princess Diana’s Butler

More than 30 years have passed since a beautiful, shy young lady burst onto the world stage and captured the hearts of so many. Diana was a fascinating and intriguing figure and was considered by many to be the most famous woman in the world. The largest worldwide television audience to that point in history watched as she married Prince Charles in 1981. The entire world celebrated when she gave birth to two sons, William and Harry. We all admired her efforts to help others and stop some of the world’s atrocities such as innocent children being killed by land mines. And the entire world mourned upon learning of her tragic and untimely death.

Although Diana has not faded from our collectives memories, recent events have thrust England into the spotlight, and Diana along with it. There was the royal wedding of her son, Prince William, which was on the same scale as Diana’s. Queen Elizabeth just celebrated her diamond jubilee and the Summer Olympics were recently held in London. In addition, recent difficulties that Princess Kate has had with media are eerily similar to those of Diana. So, in many ways, Diana is still in our minds and is still “The People’s Princess,” 15 years after her death.

Although, Diana lived a very public life, in her quest for privacy she would often attempt to retreat from the intense media scrutiny, and would confide in the person who it has been said that she referred to as, “The only man I could trust,” her butler, Paul Burrell.

Recently, the New York Institute of Technology welcomed Burrell and presented several events called “A Royal Experience”, featuring him.

“In coming here tonight, I couldn’t help think, what a lucky man I am,” Burrell told the audience at the first event, A Royal Style Gala, which was held at the NYIT de Seversky Mansion on Sept. 20. Guests were served a menu of items that are favorites of Queen Elizabeth including poached lobster, rack of lamb, and a selection of fine wines. Following dinner, Burrell spoke about his experience serving Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Diana, and other world leaders, including Pope John Paul II and President Reagan.

Burrell first met Diana in the autumn of 1980, when she needed guidance in finding her way through one of the Royal Family’s castles. Hearing him speak, it seems as if the two were immediately fond of each other and the relationship grew stronger as Diana’s stature grew immeasurably.

“Standing alongside the Queen, I watched as the princess blossomed,” Burrell recalled.

As her life became unsettled with a separation from Prince Charles, Burrell says that she relied on him even more as a confidant and a measure of stability. Burrell said that at her request, he left the Queen and the Royal Family to serve Diana.

“Come with me and our families will grow together,” Burrell says that she would say to him.

The princess had two children, and Burrell had a family of his own. He met his wife while working at Buckingham Palace as she was on staff there as well. The couple would honeymoon at Balmoral Castle, courtesy of the Queen, and have two children.

Throughout the remainder of her life, Burrell accompanied Diana as she visited war-torn countries and tried to give a voice to those who were unspoken for. He recalls visiting Bosnia, Pakistan and other areas of violence. His admiration for Diana and her efforts is quite evident so many years later.

“It is better to give than to receive, because when you give there are no strings attached, but when you receive there are,” Burrell recounted her saying. “A force for goodness, she gave unconditionally,” he would later add about Diana.

He also recalled the night of her tragic passing, when he met her in a Paris hospital and pleaded with her to wake up as he held her hand. Sadly, Diana was lost that night, but according to Burrell, her work and her legacy continues on in Prince William and Prince Harry. As he concluded,  he said that Princess Kate has the same qualities as Diana, and he hopes that she will be given the privacy and freedom that Diana was denied, so that Kate may continue the legacy started by Diana.