Imagine going through hours of difficult labor with your second child, and then having your husband tell you that you have served your purpose and he is ready to move on. That was the devastating situation for Princess Diana, after she gave birth to little Prince Harry on September 15, 1984, claims her former butler of 10 years, Paul Burrell. The 23-year-old princess was stunned when Prince Charles, her husband of 3 years, took just a quick look at their new son and after commenting on his red hair, which ran in Diana’s family, he dropped a bombshell, recounts Burrell, in an exclusive interview for the HollywoodLife podcast. “Now, I’ve done my duty,” he told his exhausted wife, claims Burrell, who was also Diana’s confidant during his 10 years of service . “Now, I can go back to Camilla.” Burrell, recounted this story to HollywoodLife in an exclusive interview. Camilla, of course, was Prince Charles’ former girlfriend, Camilla Parker Bowles, with whom he had remained a close friend with while married to Diana. She was also still married, at the time. And Charles was referring to the fact that Diana had literally delivered exactly what Charles, the heir to the British throne needed – his own heir – Prince William, and now a “spare.”
For Diana, lying in her hospital bed, it was a devastating blow. “She loved Charles,” Burrell explained to HollywoodLife in an interview before the premiere of a Smithsonian Channel special, Princess Diana’s Wicked Stepmother, on Oct. 28. What had started out as a fairytale romance and marriage for a naive “virgin” from an aristocratic, Queen Elizabeth-approved family, was now turning into a nightmare. She was besotted with Charles when she married him in a spectacular televised St Paul’s Cathedral wedding, but Charles had never gotten over his first love, Camilla, who hadn’t been deemed suitable wife material at the time. The pair did in fact rekindle their romance after Charles claimed that his marriage to Diana had irretrievably broken down. The pair married in 2005 after they had both divorced their spouses and Diana died at just 36 years old, in a tragic car crash in Paris in 1997.
But her legacy of love and caring for other people, lives on in her sons – Princes William and Harry. She was the first mother of an heir to a British throne to be “hands on.” “She broke the (royal) rules and raised her children,” Burrell (pictured with Diana below) said. “She had them long enough to instill in them her hopes, ideals and dreams. That’s what you’re seeing today- her hopes and ideals being projected through her children.” Diana was famous for visiting and hugging AIDS patients at a time when people were even afraid to treat AIDS patients for fear of being infected themselves. She walked through an Angolan minefield to publicize the need for funds to clear the fields and save children and adults from being injured and killed by the buried explosives.” We travelled the world and I walked through those landmine fields with her. She used to say to me- ‘am I doing the right thing? Is this enough’. I said- ‘ You are shining a light on people that have been forgotten,’ and that was her mission.” Prince Harry just retraced his mother’s steps in Angola, this past September, to highlight the need for the work to continue.
Both William and Harry had involved themselves with multiple charities like their mother but furthermore they married for love – unlike her own husband, Charles. And have become hands on parents to their children- Princes George, Louis and Archie and Princess Charlotte, just like she was. Diana also made sure to prevent her family nanny from treating William- the heir- any differently than his younger brother. “She slapped that down. She really went to town with that and said, ‘you do not treat one of my children better than the other. You treat them the same. They’re both my boys. I love them equally,’ recalls Burrell. And he points out that Diana’s legacy of parental love and acceptance has been passed down to her sons; “William has said very bravely, bless his heart- ‘it doesn’t matter if Louis or George turn out to be gay. It’s fine with me. We’ll love them just the same. Whoa, the royal family are moving towards this century.”
Tune in to Smithsonian Channel’s new documentary, Princess Diana’s Wicked Stepmother, premiering on Oct. 28.