The life story of Paul Burrell has often seemed more improbable than fiction. The lorry driver’s son became Princess Diana‘s butler and was accused and acquitted of stealing her property.
Now another chapter has reached its conclusion: After nearly 18 years, the garrulous former footman has closed his florist’s shop, which came into existence, he says, thanks to Diana.
‘I’m retiring from floristry,’ he says. ‘It’s a long time to be doing flowers. I always looked upon it as a service to the community really.
‘The Princess set me up in this business, really,’ adds Burrell, 60, after announcing the closure of his enterprise in the Cheshire village of Farndon.
Burrell, whose website says that he has ‘become a taste arbiter and expert in food, wine, furnishings, flower arranging, etiquette and entertaining’, opened his first premises in Wales, with his old friend, the late drag queen Danny La Rue, cutting the ribbon in November 2001.
Diana, The Princess Of Wales, in London with her then butler, Paul Burrell, in 1994
At the time he was married to Maria, a former maid to the Duke of Edinburgh, by whom he has two sons, Alex and Nick.
Since then, however, Burrell has re-arranged his domestic circumstances, marrying his long-term partner Graham Cooper in 2017.
Now Burrell and Graham plan to travel the globe. ‘My bucket list is world travel — the two of us — and I want to take him to places I’ve been with the Queen and the Princess and say I remember walking on this spot with the Queen on the Great Wall of China.
‘I want to go to India and sit on the Princess’s bench because I didn’t actually go there with her.’
I’m sure Princes William and Harry will wish him bon voyage.
Diana Princess of Wales pictured sitting in front of the Taj Mahal during a visit to India in 1992
They responded to the publication of Burrell’s 2003 memoir by issuing an unprecedented statement.
‘We cannot believe,’ it read, ‘that Paul, entrusted with so much, could abuse his position in such a cold and overt betrayal.’
Artist Tracey Emin is not a fan of Boris Johnson or Theresa May
Tracey Emin paints Bojo in a poor light
Tracey Emin’s friendly relationship with David Cameron, whom she voted for twice, won’t be repeated if Boris Johnson takes over the Tory leadership.
‘I didn’t see any men wanting to jump in to do the job,’ the artist recalls of the internal election which followed the referendum.
‘I saw twits like Boris Johnson run away when the reality dawned on them.’
Emin, whose latest show opened yesterday at White Cube in South-East London, doesn’t enjoy cosy Downing Street dinners with the current incumbent, either.
‘Theresa May is not really my kind of PM,’ she says.
Who would have thought 71-year-old Lord Blunkett had thespian ambitions? ‘Even at my age, I am happy to have a punt at appearing in BBC dramas,’ says the Labour peer after a turn as a teacher in the Radio 4 series, Blind School.
‘Who knows, this small cameo might one day get me a small part in The Archers?’ Don’t count on it.
Blunkett once complained that he was ‘losing the will to live’ with the farming soap in a blast at the producers over the rate at which popular characters were being summarily dispensed with.
James’s new venture? A bark and ride service
IS THE Duchess of Cambridge’s younger brother James Middleton hoping to expand into the pet travel business?
The entrepreneur, who has spoken of how his dogs have helped him through difficult times, proudly carted some of his canine companions around London in his cargo bike yesterday.
He owns five pooches — Ella, Inca, Luna, Zulu and Mabel — and the four of his pets pictured here looked as if they were enjoying the ride.
James, 31, who was dressed in a padded blue gilet and a brown outback style hat, has said of his black cocker spaniel: ‘Ella, particularly, has been my constant companion for ten years. In her own particular way, she has kept me going.’
James Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge’s younger brother, riding a cargo bike with four dogs in the front
M&S model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley has still to tie the knot with her fiance, Jason Statham, with whom she has a one-year-old son.
But at least she has got her wedding outfit sorted. ‘I modelled an enormous amount for bridal catalogues and promised myself I’d never wear a big white frilly dress,’ she says. ‘I’d opt for a denim jumpsuit a la Penelope Cruz in Blow.
Prince’s pal goes dotty with lover Sharapova
It’s game, set and match to former Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova when it comes to outlandish fashion.
She and her boyfriend visited Marrakech this week to try on colourful outfits with Maria, 31, modelling a red polka dot jacket and yellow trousers with pink and black socks.
Meanwhile Old Etonian Alex Gilkes, 39, a chum of Prince William, opted for a black jacket decorated with the Chanel logo and pink and black spotty trousers. ‘Not quite the Chanel campaign,’ he says.
His ex-wife, fashion designer Misha Nonoo, might not be a fan of the vibrant look, having recently extolled the virtues of ‘simple dressing’.
Angela Rippon, who starred in the BBC advert for free TV licences for over-75s in 2001, says the benefit should not be scrapped. ‘This year I shall be 75,’ she tells me. ‘A lot of people need it free but I think it should be means-tested.’ Speaking at the Ray Burmiston private view in Piccadilly, which raised funds for children’s charity Variety, she adds: ‘The licence is incredibly good value at about 50p a day; 50p a day is nothing — what can you buy now that’s less than that? A box of matches?’