The coroner investigating the death of Princess Diana says he is stepping down from that job because his workload is too heavy.

Michael Burgess, the coroner for the royal household and the county of Surrey, said he did not have enough time to do a thorough job on the inquest into the 1997 deaths of Diana and her companion Dodi Fayed.

He has asked the government to nominate a senior judicial official to take his place on the inquest, his office said in a statement. He plans to remain a coroner handling other cases.

"The cases will demand a good deal of time and a clear focus, free of distractions and, consequently, Mr. Burgess has concluded that these two cases cannot properly be dealt with by a coroner who also has a heavy and constant workload of other cases," it said.

Lord Falconer, the head of Britain's judiciary, has agreed to nominate a replacement for Burgess.

The inquest is awaiting a report by Lord Stevens, the former head of London's Metropolitan Police, whom Burgess asked to investigate the 1997 Paris car crash that killed the couple and their driver, Henri Paul.

Stevens said in January that the investigation was "far more complex than any of us thought" but did not specify what he meant.

A French judge ruled in 1999 that the crash was an accident, and an investigation concluded that Paul had been drinking and was driving at high speed.