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Burrell slammed as 'runaway train'

Diana, Burrell
Diana and her former butler, Paul Burrell, are seen in this 1997 photo.

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LONDON, England (CNN) -- A former press secretary to the queen says he fears Princess Diana's former butler Paul Burrell, who is publishing a book revealing a number of secrets about the princess's life, is now a "runaway train."

Burrell has refused to apologize after Princes William and Harry lashed out at him for a "cold and overt betrayal" of their mother, who died in a car crash in Paris in 1997.

Instead he told the Daily Mirror, which has been serializing his forthcoming book, he would be willing to meet the two princes to talk through their concerns.

Former Buckingham Palace press secretary Dickie Arbiter was the latest of a number of commentators and former royal officials to pour scorn on Burrell.

"It is rich when he says he knows how far he can go. I think he has gone quite a long way already, and I don't think he's going to stop either," he told BBC Radio 4.

"This book is going to go ahead. But is there more? There is more. And my guess is that we have now got a runaway train and it is not going to stop."

Arbiter gave his assessment of the damage Burrell was doing.

"It is damaging to the memory of Diana. I'm not sure it is actually damaging to the monarchy and the monarch."

But, said Arbiter, material relating to Prince Charles -- the heir to the British throne -- was damaging.

Arbiter said he believed a meeting between Burrell and the two young princes would be unwise.

"I don't think it should go ahead, because Burrell would dine out on it, and nothing is going to be achieved. We have got a runaway train here and it is not going to stop until it hits the buffers, and the buffers are a long way off."

The two princes -- second and third in line to the throne -- said their mother Diana would have been "mortified" at Burrell's revelations this week if she were still alive.

But Burrell refused to apologize for his new book and said he was "saddened" by the princes' statement.

He said his book, "A Royal Duty," was "nothing more than a tribute" to Diana and he was "extremely proud" of it.

He also took a swipe at the royal family, saying no-one contacted him or said sorry following the collapse of his Old Bailey trial for theft last year.

Burrell fueled conspiracy theories surrounding her death by writing that Diana feared for her life and that she had written of a plot to tamper with the brakes of her car.

William, speaking on behalf of 19-year-old Harry who is in Australia during his gap year, described their deep pain at the stories and appealed to Burrell to end his revelations.

They would be prepared to meet the ex-royal servant to discuss the matter, Clarence House said.

In a statement released Friday, unprecedented for its strength of feeling, 21-year-old university student William said: "We cannot believe that Paul, who was entrusted with so much, could abuse his position in such a cold and overt betrayal.

"It is not only deeply painful for the two of us but also for everyone else affected and it would mortify our mother if she were alive today and, if we might say so, we feel we are more able to speak for our mother than Paul.

"We ask Paul please to bring these revelations to an end."

Much of the book appears to be based on letters written and received by Diana, as well as Burrell's experiences and observations as the princess's butler and confidante.

On Friday, the Daily Mirror published an excerpt of Burrell's book in which he said Princess Diana had nine secret "gentleman friends" including a Hollywood star, a sports legend, a leading musician and a famous politician. (Full story)

The day before he said Diana never wanted a divorce from Prince Charles but said her relationship with him had been poisoned by "envy, jealousy and hatred" from his family and friends. (Full story)

Charles, the heir to the throne, married 20-year-old Lady Diana Spencer at a pomp-laden service in St. Paul's Cathedral in 1981.

But the marriage floundered, in part over Diana's unhappiness at the burdens of royal life and Charles' continuing relationship with companion Camilla Parker Bowles.

The Burrell book excerpts have included letters to Diana from her father-in-law Prince Philip -- one stating he "never dreamed" Charles would leave Diana for Parker Bowles.

Burrell also cited a letter in which Diana's brother, Earl Spencer, said: "I pray you're getting treatment for your mental problems."

Spencer told the U.S. television network NBC on Wednesday that the letter was "private correspondence which has been taken out of context and out of time."


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