As Meghan Markle, 38, Prince Harry, 36, and baby Archie prepare to travel to the US for Thanksgiving before taking a much-needed 6-week break from royal work, Princess Diana‘s former butler is publicly defending the new parents after Meghan has been the victim of intense criticism by the British press. “Meghan’s story runs parallel to the story of Prince William and Prince Harry’s mother Princess Diana’s [who tragically died in a car crash at the age of 36.] As I watched the documentary [about Meghan Markle and Prince Harry] on British television, I saw history repeating itself,” Paul Burrell, who served as Lady Di’s butler of 10 years and confidant up until her death in ’97, told HollywoodLife.com in a podcast interview. “I saw two vulnerable people hurt. I kept thinking to myself, ‘Surely we’ve learned the lessons from the past. Surely the media aren’t going to wade in on Meghan the way they did on Diana.’ That, of course, is Harry’s fear.”
Paul’s comments come after Meghan held back tears during a recent interview with ITV’s Tom Bradby during the royal couple’s South African tour following months of public scrutiny, namely from critical British tabloids. When asked how she was doing, Meghan replied, “Thank you for asking. Not many people have asked if I’m OK, but it’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes,” she said, before saying that she “isn’t really OK.” In her response and demeanor, Paul found many similarities in what he saw with Diana a couple of decades ago. “Diana was constantly hounded [by paparazzi]. She was chased down Bond Street, and the media were taking pictures and hurling abuse at her at the same time to get a reaction, and I saw, in Meghan, a vulnerability and a wounded woman who had had a taste of that,” Paul said. “She’s only been in the Royal Family for a year. She’s become a royal, a mother and a wife within one year. That’s a lot to ask.”
He continued, “They are two human beings who fell in love. Let’s not forget that they are a young couple with a young family struggling to find a role in the world much the same as young couples that are out there. Let’s give them some space, some oxygen so that they can breathe and they can live and enjoy these magical years of their marriage and bringing up their family.” In response to the media’s attacks against Meghan, Prince Harry has taken legal action against two outlets who he has accused of hacking his phone and stealing voice messages. Additionally, Meghan has filed a claim against the Mail on Sunday and its parent company Associated Newspapers, alleging “the intrusive and unlawful publication of a private letter” written by the Duchess of Sussex to her estranged father ahead of her wedding.
As Paul mentioned, Harry’s greatest fear is that what happened to his mother — who died in a fatal car accident in Paris in 1997 while being chased by paparazzi — could happen to his new wife and mother of his baby son Archie, 5 months. “Harry’s heart broke [after Diana died]. Well, both boys’ hearts broke, but Harry was so much younger . It really shaped the rest of his life and affected him. He’s talked about it, about mental health, and he’s talked about how his mother’s passing affected him,” the author of The Way We Were: Remembering Diana said.
Paul also spoke about the Smithsonian Channel documentary, in which he appears as as a commentator, titled Princess Diana’s ‘Wicked Stepmother’ which premieres on October 28th at 8 PM ET. The royal expert revealed that despite Diana and her step-mother Raine Spencer’s tumultuous relationship, Raine actually ended up becoming one of her strongest allies after her marriage to Prince Charles fell apart. “Diana gave Raine a lifeline back into the royal world, into that world of glitterati, and also gave her the chance to meet Mohammed Al-Fayed, the owner of London’s prestigious Harrod’s department store, and become a director of Harrods,” Paul revealed on the podcast. Click here to listen to the full interview!