Princess Diana’s former butler is worried history is repeating itself when it comes to her son Prince Harry and his wife, Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle.
The couple recently spoke out about how the negative press attention hurt their family for the ITV documentary “Harry & Meghan: An African Journey,” which follows their royal tour in southern Africa.
During her lifetime, Diana was also ruthlessly hounded by the paparazzi before her death in 1997 at age 36 from injuries she sustained in a Paris car crash.
Paul Burrell served as a footman to Queen Elizabeth II before he began working for the Princess of Wales in 1987 until her passing. He came forward for a Smithsonian Channel documentary titled “Princess Diana’s ‘Wicked’ Stepmother,” which sheds light on her relationship with Countess Raine Spencer.
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Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex visit District 6 Museum on Sep. 23, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. The pair are reportedly considering a move to Africa after a bitter battle with public life in the U.K.
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Burrell told Fox News that after witnessing what Diana endured, he’s worried if Harry, 35, and Markle, 38, can enjoy a peaceful marriage with their son Archie, who was born in May.
“I watched [their] documentary and I thought, ‘My goodness, is history repeating itself?’ said Burrell. “Why is the media being so vitriolic toward Meghan and Harry, when all they’re trying to do is help? I walked with the princess through those minefields [in Africa], as Harry did, and I saw Diana in Harry as he was doing exactly the same thing.”
“I remember a journalist came up to Diana while she was walking through the streets,” Burrell continued. “She said to the princess, ‘Ma’am, what do you think about being called a loose cannon by a member of the parliament?’ Diana said, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about. All I’m doing is trying to help.’ And I heard those words as Harry was walking through the minefields [in Africa]… All they’re trying to do is shine a light on people’s plights in far-off places, who have no voice. So I do see history repeating itself.”
Burrell pointed out Markle, a former American actress, has been treated unfairly by the tabloids since becoming a member of the British royal family when she married Harry in May 2018.
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Princess Diana puts on shoes for little Prince Harry as her other son Prince William squints from the bright sun during their vacation with the Spanish royal family at Marivent Palace in Palma De Mallorca.
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“I just feel we should give them space to develop as a young family and as a newlywed couple,” he explained. “She’s only been married to him for a year. She’s a newlywed. She’s a wife, a mother, a royal — all in one year — as well as being embraced by a family who is renowned for not having really much love. They’re not used to expressing their emotions… Do we really want to chase two people down the same path [as Diana]?”
Burrell noted that unlike Prince William, who is second in line to the British royal throne, his younger brother Harry is still trying to carve out his own role within the family. Harry is sixth in line after William’s three children: Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.
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Paul Burrell today.
(Firecrest Films Ltd.)
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“William and [his wife] Kate [Middleton], they have a road map in front of them,” said Burrell. “They know exactly where they’re destined. Meghan and Harry don’t. They’re trying to forge their way forward, and I just feel it’s very unfair, as Meghan said, to have so much vitriolic media pointed in your direction. I think it’s really unfair and I think the media should lay off of them, let them live and give then oxygen to develop a young family. Otherwise, we’ll lose them.”
Burrell suspects that like Diana, the couple will eventually consider leaving the U.K. altogether to escape the intense British press.
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Princess Diana with Prince Harry.
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“Diana was looking for a refuge to take her children,” said Burrell. “She looked at South Africa herself because [her brother] Charles Spencer has an estate in South Africa. So the princess decided to disguise it by going to visit Christiaan Barnard, the heart surgeon. She was also looking for an estate or property, but she couldn’t find one in South Africa, and security was an issue there.”
Burrell alleged Diana was considering moving across the pond.
“She turned her search to America,” he claimed. “Ironically, we had the plans for a house on the west coast of America in Malibu. It used to be owned by Blake Edwards and [his wife] Julie Andrews. We had the plans for that house, and we dedicated the rooms to William and Harry and the princess. Myself and my wife and the children were going to live above the house. So her future was turning towards America.
“And I do believe wholeheartedly that Meghan will want to bring up her children as half American, so they will need a place here,” added Burrell. “It wouldn’t surprise me if they bought a place in the United States.”
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Britain’s Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle hold their baby son Archie as they meet with Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the Tutu Legacy Foundation in Cape Town on Sep. 25, 2019. The British royal couple is on a 10-day tour of southern Africa — their first official visit as a family since their son Archie was born in May.
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In the documentary, Harry told British journalist Tom Bradby Diana was on his mind while embarking on his royal tour of southern Africa alongside Markle and their son Archie.
“Look, part of this job and part of any job, like anybody, means putting on a brave face and turning a cheek to a lot of the stuff,” he explained. “But again, for me and for my wife, of course, there’s a lot of stuff that hurts — especially when the majority of it is untrue.
“But all we need to do is focus on being real, focus on being the people we are and standing up for what we believe in,” continued Harry. “I will not be bullied into playing a game that killed my mom.”
Markle also told Bradby she hopes the public will one day just focus on the positive–the love the couple has for each other.
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Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex visits mothers2mothers during her royal tour of South Africa with Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex on Sept. 25, 2019, in Cape Town, South Africa. Mothers2mothers (m2m) is an African not-for-profit organization with the vision of a healthy, HIV-free Africa. The organization trains and employs women living with HIV as frontline health workers across eight African nations.
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“I would hope that people, the world, will get to the point where they just see us as a couple who’s in love because I don’t wake up every day and identify as being anything other than who I’ve always been,” said the former “Suits” star.
“It’s just, I’m Meghan and I’ve married this incredible man and this to me is just part of our love story,” she noted.