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William criticizes Diana's butler

Diana, Burrell
Diana and her former butler, Paul Burrell, are seen in this 1997 photo.

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LONDON, England -- Princes William and Harry have lashed out at the former royal butler Paul Burrell for a "cold and overt betrayal" of their mother Diana, the Princess of Wales.

The Daily Mirror, a British tabloid newspaper, is running excerpts from "A Royal Duty," a forthcoming memoir by Burrell.

But in a statement issued through his publisher Penguin, Burrell said he was saddened by the princes' statement "because I know that this book is nothing more than a tribute to their mother."

"My only intention in writing this book was to defend the princess and stand in her corner," Burrell said

But William, 21, also speaking on behalf of his younger brother, said Burrell's published accounts of his years as the princess's butler would "mortify" their mother if she was still alive. Diana died in a Paris car crash in 1997.

"We cannot believe that Paul who was entrusted with so much could abuse his position in such a cold and overt betrayal," William said in the statement.

"It is not only deeply painful for the two of us but also for everyone else affected and it would mortify our mother if she were alive today and, if we might say so, we feel we are more able to speak for our mother than Paul," it said.

"We ask Paul please to bring these revelations to an end."

On Friday, the paper published an excerpt of Burrell's book in which he said Princess Diana had nine secret "gentleman friends" including a Hollywood star, a sports legend, a leading musician and a famous politician. (Full story)

The day before he said Diana never wanted a divorce from Prince Charles but said her relationship with him had been poisoned by "envy, jealousy and hatred" from his family and friends. (Full story)

Charles, the heir to the throne, married 20-year-old Lady Diana Spencer at a pomp-laden service in St. Paul's Cathedral in 1981.

But the marriage floundered, in part over Diana's unhappiness at the burdens of royal life and Charles' continuing relationship with companion Camilla Parker Bowles.

Burrell's book, due to be published next week, is the latest inside look at the royal family's woes.

The excerpts have included letters to Diana from her father-in-law Prince Philip -- one stating he "never dreamed" Charles would leave Diana for Parker Bowles.

Burrell also cited a letter in which Diana's brother, Earl Spencer, said: "I pray you're getting treatment for your mental problems."

Spencer told the U.S. television network NBC on Wednesday that the letter was "private correspondence which has been taken out of context and out of time."

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