Princess Diana's former butler says seeing Meghan Markle battle with British tabloids is like 'witnessing history again'

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Burrell was Diana's butler and close confidant until her death in 1997.
Anthony Jones/ UK Press via Getty Images
  • Prince Diana's former butler and close confidant Paul Burrell told Insider watching Meghan Markle's battle with the media feels like "witnessing history again" because of its impact on Prince Harry.
  • "He doesn't want to go through that again," Burrell said of the prince's grief over losing his mother and his determination for his wife to not have the same relationship with the press.
  • Markle is suing Associated Newspapers and claiming misuse of private information, infringement of copyright, and breach of the Data Protection Act 2018. Harry has filed a separate lawsuit against the owners of The Sun and The Daily Mirror over alleged phone hacking.
  • Burrell has also filed a lawsuit against The Daily Mirror for alleged phone hacking.
  • Burrell will be featured in a documentary about Diana's relationship with her stepmother Raine Spencer, airing October 28.
  • For more stories go to

Princess Diana's former butler and longtime confidant Paul Burrell, 61, told Insider that he sees parallels between the way Meghan Markle has been treated by the British tabloids and Diana's well-known struggle with the media.

"I do see parallels in that I see Harry being hurt because of it," Burrell said.

Burrell said watching Meghan's struggle with the press feels like 'witnessing history again' because of its impact on Prince Harry

However, he made clear he thinks Diana and Markle's experiences are different, pointing out that Diana was frequently physically harassed by members of the press.

"I was with Diana when she was hounded by the media," he said. "Literally packs of photographers [...] chasing her like an animal."

Many blame the paparazzi for Diana's death in 1997, as an aggressive group of photographers on motorcycles were chasing her vehicle just prior to the accident.

While the Duchess of Sussex isn't physically harassed in the way Diana was, according to Burrell, she is subject to digital harassment, with British tabloids in particular reporting negative stories about her regularly.

Burrell referred to their treatment of Markle as "digital abuse."

The Duchess of Sussex recently said she was struggling with the British media's treatment of her in an emotional interview. Burrell believes Markle's emotional state is impacting Harry, particularly because of what happened to Diana.

"His heart was broken when his mother died, as was William's, and he's never really recovered from that," Burrell said.

Harry was 12 when his mother died.

Markle and Harry are both currently suing British publications

The duke and duchess have both recently filed lawsuits against UK-based tabloids.

Meghan is suing Associated Newspapers and claiming misuse of private information, infringement of copyright, and breach of the Data Protection Act 2018. The lawsuit specifically refers to the publication of a private letter Meghan wrote to her father.

Harry has filed a separate lawsuit against the owners of The Sun and The Daily Mirror for alleged phone hacking. The case is believed to be related to incidents from the early 2000s.

Burrell thinks the lawsuits are Harry's attempt to prevent history from repeating itself. "He doesn't want to go through that again," Burrell said, referencing Diana's death.

Meghan and Harry both have lawsuits against the British press.
Samir Hussein/WireImage/ Getty Images

He believes Harry is effectively telling the media "Don't you dare do what you did to my mother to my wife."

Burrell is also suing a British tabloid for alleged phone hacking

Burrell recently filed a lawsuit against The Daily Mirror over alleged phone hacking, according to The Guardian, one of the publication's Harry is also suing.

"Before the princess's death and after, I had a mobile phone," Burrell told Insider. "I don't have one today. And that's because the media were hacking my mobile phone, alongside Harry's."

Burrell was unable to specify the details of his allegations because the lawsuit is ongoing, but he believes his phone was hacked because of his close relationship with Diana.

Burrell is currently suing The Daily Mirror for alleged phone hacking.

Speaking of the media, Burrell said, "If they wanted to know a story about Diana, where would they go? Who was the closest source? Well, her son, and her closest confidant, of course, would be targets."

He also said Diana warned him about phone hacking before her death, though he and others brushed her claims off as "nonsense" at the time.

Burrell is featured in an upcoming documentary about Diana's relationship with her stepmother, Raine Spencer

The documentary, "Princess Diana's 'Wicked' Stepmother," will air on the Smithsonian Channel on October 28, and it explores the tumultuous relationship between the princess and Raine.

Burrell is featured in the documentary, speaking on the duo's reconciliation, which he witnessed while in service as Diana's butler.

Burrell served as Queen Elizabeth II's footman before entering Diana's service. He worked for her until her death, and they were also good friends. He thinks of himself as Diana's "jack of all trades."

Burrell wrote a memoir about his 10 years of service to the princess called "A Royal Duty" in 2003.

Burrell wrote a book about his time working for Diana.

Prince William and Prince Harry were upset about the book at the time, releasing a statement condemning its publication: "We cannot believe that Paul, who was entrusted with so much, could abuse his position in such a cold and overt betrayal. It was not only deeply painful for the two of us but also for everyone else affected."

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