LONDON – Princess Diana's butler said that he did not know whether she had become engaged to Dodi Fayed shortly before she died, but that he believed that the relationship was already cooling.
Paul Burrell, in his third day of testimony at the inquest into the couple's Aug. 31, 1997, deaths said Diana was concerned about the possibility that she would be offered a ring, and had accepted the butler's suggestion that she wear it on the fourth finger of her right hand as a sign of friendship.
Burrell said he did not know that Fayed had purchased yet another ring in Paris on the night before they died.
"I knew that she would not get engaged," said Burrell, who confirmed that he did not favor the romance.
Michael Mansfield, an attorney representing Dodi's father, Mohamed Al Fayed, said: "You may like to think you knew that, but actually you don't know, do you?"
"I don't — I don't know," Burrell said.
Mohamed Al Fayed has claimed that his son and the princess were preparing to announce their engagement, and that she was already pregnant. He has alleged that the couple were murdered in a plot directed by Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, and carried out by British intelligence agents.
British and French police concluded that the fatal car crash in a road tunnel in Paris was an accident and blamed driver Henri Paul, who was found to be over the legal alcohol limit.
Mansfield suggested that Diana's swiftly developing romance with Fayed, and Mohamed Al Fayed's support for her campaign against land mines, would have alarmed unidentified forces related to the British establishment and the arms industry.
He has previously suggested that Diana's campaign against land mines was the motive for a plot against her.
"Would you agree ... that by the 31st of August, the alliance created between, and perceived to have been created, between the Al Fayeds and Diana, given all the background, must have appeared to have been an alliance made in hell?" Mansfield said.
"Well, I can't assume that," Burrell said.
Mansfield asserted that Prince Philip had described Dodi Fayed as "an oily bed-hopper."
"I don't think those are his words," Burrell said.
The former butler, who has produced two books about her, said he believed that Diana might already have been tiring of a romance that was no more than six weeks old.
He said Diana had complained in a telephone call that the weather was hot and the cabins in the yacht Jonikal were too cold, and that she was looking forward to coming home.
"I felt she was telling me, she was inferring, that this relationship had reached its peak and was going down the other side," Burrell said.
"Very often relationships did that in the princess' world. She became infatuated, obsessed with someone, and then grew tired of them."
He said he had not known at the time that Dodi Fayed bought a ring in Paris on Aug. 30, 1997. It has been described as an engagement ring.
Burrell said he had seen pictures of the ring, but doubted that Diana would have chosen it for herself.
"She would have found it rather gaudy and lacking of taste," he said.