PRINCESS Diana believed Prince Charles wanted her killed in an accident when she was plagued by anxiety and feared for her safety.
She told of her worries in her now infamous note which she handed to butler Paul Burrell as “insurance” on the day she wrote it in October 1996, 10 months before she died in a Paris car crash.
Burrell censored the note when he disclosed its existence in his book last year by blanking the words “my husband” from the text.
The full text, revealed for the first time, now reads: “This particular phase of my life is the most dangerous – my husband is planning ‘an accident’ in my car, brake failure & serious head injury in order to make the path clear for him to marry.”
The Daily Mirror – not Burrell – has decided to publish the blanked out name because it will inevitably appear in the public domain.
Burrell is prepared to hand the note to the coroner probing the deaths of Diana and boyfriend Dodi Al Fayed whose inquests open today.
By bringing the text to light he is honouring a long-standing promise to co-operate fully with the inquiries.
Speaking at his home in Farndon, Cheshire, Burrell – known by Diana as her “rock” – said yesterday: “This matter has to be handled with great sensitivity and I have genuine concerns about that.
“I reproduced only a portion of that letter in my book to provide further force to the argument that an inquest must be held.
“To that end, the document has fulfilled its main purpose.
“I’ll do what I’ve always said I’ll do, and provide the coroner with every possible assistance where the information I know is relevant to his investigations.”
Royal coroner Michael Burgess has already written to Burrell asking for the document to be handed over for examination.
The former butler is happy for Mr Burgess to see the entire contents.
He is due to meet his lawyers this week and will then be questioned about the correspondence. No decision over whether the letter will be regarded as evidence will be made until the coroner has viewed its contents.
A source said: “Mr Burgess will take nothing on face value, and he’ll question Mr Burrell very closely over its contents and how it came to be in his possession. It will be a matter handled with great sensitivity and care.”
Mr Burgess has yet to decide what witnesses and evidence will be deemed admissable at the full inquests. But Burrell is widely expected to be a key witness.
The sensational development once again puts Charles’s relationship with his companion Camilla Parker Bowles in the spotlight. It again focuses attention on Diana’s anxieties over her ex-husband in the year before her death.
It also renews attention on the conspiracy theories swirling round Diana’s death in the Pont d’Alma tunnel in Paris.
These theories were fuelled by the haunting similarities between her own prediction and the 1997 crash.
Speculation raged over the the blanked-out name in the letter published in Burrell’s book, A Royal Duty, which was exclusively serialised in the Mirror. At the time, the passage appeared as: “********* is planning ‘an accident’ in my car… in order to make the path clear for Charles to marry.”
Burrell had instructed his publishers Penguin to replace the word “him” with “Charles” to protect the prince’s interests.
He said in his book: “I will never say what those blacked-out words say… deciding what to do with it (the letter) has been a source of much soul-searching.
“I agree that it may be futile in what it achieves because it can do no more than provide yet another question mark. But if that question mark leads to an inquest… it will have achieved something.”
Burrell has revealed that at the time the letter was written Diana was plagued by insecurities and even believed her Kensington Palace apartments were bugged.
Her marriage had ended only two months before. Though she had negotiated an estimated £17million settlement, the princess was devastated at losing her HRH title. Charles had admitted conducting an affair with Camilla, saying he committed adultery only after his marriage became “irretrievably broken down, us both having tried”.
Today, Camilla is the prince’s accepted companion. She lives with him at his London home, Clarence House, and his Gloucestershire home, Highgrove. She has also accompanied him on semi-official engagements.
Diana’s friends have always said that in the months leading up to her death she had resolved her differences with Charles and was looking forward to them becoming friends. Burrell said in the Mirror the letter provided “evidence of the state of the princess’s mind in the final months of her life”.
He admitted it increased huge public interest which was “crying out for a full examination of the facts”.
Mr Burgess announced that an inquest would be opened into Diana’s death two months after Burrell’s sensational book was published.
The hearing will open at the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre, in Westminster, Central London. An inquest on Dodi, who lived at Oxted, Surrey, will open in the afternoon at Reigate. Mr Burgess is expected to announce the scope of his hearings and the course his investigation will take before full inquests are held later in the year.
The coroner will first have to digest a 6,000-page police report and secret evidence from the French inquiry into the princess’s death held by judge Herve Stephan. First evidence is not likely to be heard before the autumn.
Diana, 36, and Dodi died in the early hours of August 31, 1997, when a Mercedes driven by chauffeur Henri Paul careered out of control and smashed into a concrete pillar. The 1999 French inquiry said the crash was an accident caused by chauffeur Paul being high on drink and drugs.
Dodi’s father, Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed, believes his son and the princess were murdered, and has spent thousands of pounds pursuing his own investigations.
Diana’s family do not believe the theories. Her mother, Frances Shand Kydd, accepted the French inquiry findings “without reservation”.