intraspace: the review lounge

Saturday, October 07, 2006

a royal duty

a royal duty, by paul burrell

i suppose i should start by explaining why i read this book. i can't really think of a good explanation other than the fact that i read the first few pages to see what a royal biography was like and ended up getting hooked. sucker.

i had also forgotten what a huge stink this book made when it was first released. paul burrell, former footman to the queen and butler to diana, was accused of all manner of things when it came out - betraying the royals' trust, profiting from the memory of diana - that kind of thing.

in actual fact i found that this was a very even handed account - only mildly sensational and other than that, just a really interesting insight into the way the royal family functions. the book notches up a gear in the final third with the death of diana and with burrell being charged with stealing diana's personal property.

all the while, the thing that emerges is a story of a butler who is absolutely enamoured with his employer, a man under the spell of diana's charms - to the point of obsession, and at the expense of his own family. burrell sees upholding the memory of the princess as his life's calling. and i think that is a believeable motive, despite the vast sums of money that he has made from the book. although, i have to admit that when i heard the other day that he is planning to release another book on diana soon, his credibility starts to slip. he claims that it is because people are starting to forget her. cynics say it's time to make some more money. i think it is more a factor of an obsessed man who knows deep down that his main importance is in association with diana - without that he becomes little more than an expert on royal etiquette.

i suppose that seems like a bit of mean assessment. when you read the book you sympathise with burrell, and it is surprisingly well-written. and i think it holds true that this book is probably the most crucial one available for anyone who wants to know what life is like behind the windsors' front door.

on the stereo: 'the mp' by the album leaf, from the album 'one day i'll be on time'.

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