LONDON – Queen Elizabeth II warned Princess Diana's butler that his close ties to the family could bring him trouble, a British newspaper quoted him as saying on Wednesday.
The Daily Mirror quoted former butler Paul Burrell as saying the queen's warning came during a three-hour meeting shortly after Diana's 1997 death in a Paris car crash.
"No one, Paul, has been as close to a member of my family as you have," Burrell recalled the queen as saying, according to the paper.
"There are powers at work in this country which we have no knowledge about," Burrell reportedly quoted the queen as saying.
"She looked at me over her half-rimmed spectacles as if she expected me to know the rest. ... I had no idea who she was talking about. There were many she could have been referring to. But she was clearly warning me to be vigilant.''
The Daily Mirror reportedly paid $620,000 to interview Burrell. Buckingham Palace said it had no comment.
Burrell — whom Diana called "my rock" — was acquitted Friday of stealing more than 300 items from the princess and other members of the royal family.
His trial came to a dramatic and unexpected end when the queen told prosecutors that Burrell had informed her during the same meeting that he was holding some of Diana's belongings for safekeeping.
The former butler told the Daily Mirror the queen had corresponded with Diana until her death in an effort to mend their notoriously frosty relationship.
"I tried to reach out to Diana so many times," he quoted the queen as saying. "I wrote many, many letters to her, Paul."
The butler said he told the queen he'd seen her letters.
"But the trouble was, your majesty, that you spoke in black and white. The princess spoke in color," he recalled saying.
Many wondered why the queen had waited so long to make the revelation that cleared Burrell, who was once her personal footman. Some suggested she eventually acted to prevent her relatives from being called to testify or to stop Burrell from revealing potentially embarrassing details about the royals on the witness stand.
"I had always wondered why ... was the royal family not defending me,'' the butler said. "I thought I had been fed to the lions but, as it turned out, I had the most powerful witness to come without ever knowing it."
He reportedly said he had failed himself to realize the conversation would clear him, saying he'd only mentioned it to his lawyer last week.
"He nearly fell off his chair but the truth is that its significance was lost on me,'' Burrell was quoted as saying. "My own barrister thought I was nuts. I told him 'No, I'm just loyal.' ... In the royal household, it is unthinkable to recount any conversation with her majesty.''
Burrell reportedly said he'd taken some of Diana's papers and belongings for safekeeping because he feared her mother — from whom she had been estranged for months — and her sister wanted to erase the princess's legacy.
"I thought it was my duty to protect those documents and keep them safe,'' the paper quoted him as saying.
Burrell won a court injunction Tuesday to stop The Sun newspaper from publishing further details of a statement he gave to police after he was charged about his relationship with Diana.
Burrell's lawyer, David Price, said excerpts printed Tuesday were from a "confidential witness statement that had been prepared by Mr. Burrell's lawyers,'' as the paper claimed they were.
The Sun had quoted Burrell's statement as saying the princess had smuggled men into Kensington Palace, greeted a lover clad only in a fur coat and distributed money to prostitutes.
Under the headline "Blabbermouth gags us," the paper quoted its legal spokesman Wednesday as saying The Sun was disappointed with the ruling but would contest it.
Several newspapers also reported that Burrell, in an effort to show how close he was to Diana, had said she sent him out to buy porn magazines for her son Prince William, who was 14 when she died. William "was very interested in them notwithstanding his early age,'' Burrell was quoted as saying.
Burrell's manager said Tuesday that the former butler will host a new TV game show in which contestants will be quizzed about the news, social history, scandals and the British royal family.