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Diana butler sent for trial

Burrell leaves a London police station after being charged with theft last year  

LONDON, England -- Princess Diana's former butler Paul Burrell has been ordered to stand trial on charges of stealing hundreds of items belonging to the late princess and other royals.

The trial of the man Diana called her "rock" will begin at London's historic criminal court, the Old Bailey, on October 14.

At a separate hearing at the Old Bailey on Thursday a judge ordered another former royal butler, Harold Brown, to stand trial on December 2 for stealing items from the princess, including a ($735,000) jewelled Arabian dhow, a wedding gift from the Emir of Bahrain.

The men, who made brief appearances in separate courtrooms, did not enter pleas.

Burrell, 43, who is free on bail, faces three counts of theft for allegedly taking 328 items, including letters, crockery, a bullwhip, records and CDs, from Diana, Prince Charles and Prince William on or before June 30, 1998, at Kensington Palace.

It is alleged letters from Diana to Prince William signed "Mummy" were among them.

Burrell denies all the charges. Conviction carries a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.

He was initially arrested on suspicion of theft in January 2001. His home near Chester in north west England was searched by police who allegedly found dozens of Diana's personal effects.

Diana caled Burrell "my rock"  

Burrell maintains all were given to him by Diana for safekeeping and his lawyers have accused authorities of subjecting him to a "show trial."

Burrell, a truck driver's son who worked for the royal family for 21 years, has written books on etiquette and given speeches about his life with Diana but has not worked as a butler since her death in a car crash in 1997.

Brown, 48, who once worked for both Diana and the queen's sister, Princess Margaret, is also charged with stealing earrings, a bangle and a brooch belonging to the princess.

His co-accused, jeweller Jan Havlik, is charged with dishonestly handling the items. Both men are free on bail. Burrell help prepared Diana's body for burial after her car crash on August 31, 1997, and he was the only non-family member to witness the burial at her family's estate.

Soon afterwards, the queen awarded him the Royal Victorian Medal for his services to the royal family.

After Diana's death, Burrell received favourable publicity for not making money from his connection with the princess.

He turned down $1 million to write a tell-all book about Diana's personal life and opted instead to publish two books on stylish living and entertaining.


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