'I went to the University of Diana': Paul Burrell on coming out to his family and his secret life before engagement

Paul Burrell says he went to the “University of Diana” as he opened up about his amazing relationship with the Princess of Wales.

Paul spoke to the Mirror about deciding to wed his gay lover and has told of the agonising moment he broke the news to his ex-wife Maria.

Burrell, 58, the former butler of Princess Diana , believes he has found a soulmate in lawyer Graham Cooper.

He and Maria, 63, who stood by him when he was falsely accused of stealing Diana’s possessions, had been separated for more than a decade when their 32-year marriage ended in divorce last year.

Paul opened up to the Mirror
(Photo: Daily Mirror)
Paul can’t wait to marry Coop

Now, he says he hopes to help others in a similar situation live the life they’re truly meant to.

Speaking to the Mirror, he said: “At the beginning of this week I made an announcement that I would marry my long term partner, Coop in a few weeks’ time.

“We’re very happy but this has been an emotional rollercoaster for me. I never expected this news to come so soon, so this particular broadcast is going out to you to say I’m very happy and very proud to be marrying Coop and look forward to my wedding day and look forward to the fact that my two sons will stand beside me.

“I was very worried about telling my family, I still love my wife Maria and of course my two boys. I thought they would be very unhappy with this news, but they surprised me. Their emotional strength is just overwhelming and they will stand beside me, ‘We want to stand beside you, dad, we want to stand beside you’.

He’s looking forward to marrying his partner
(Photo: Daily Mirror)
Paul Burrell and ex-wife Marie
(Photo: Arthur Edwards)

“It should be the happiest day of my life and I’m sure it will be. If Diana was still here today she’d be proud too because for once in my life I’m standing up and saying, ‘This is who I am’.

“I hope you’re not disappointed in that because I want to do this. It’s time for me to get on with my life. It’s time to open another chapter, and I hope that the last 20 years, this emotional rollercaotser of mine, will actually end very happily.

“So all you dads out there who may be struggling in the same way that I did believe that there is hope and a happy ending for you too. Be hoenst with your family, sit down, epxlain to them every step of the way, you won’t lose them,. I was afraid I ight likse my family but you don’t in the end , If you have shicldren you’ll alkways be their e dad and you’ll always be conncected to the mother of your children, so have faith in that and know that if you build it thast way it’ll be storng and you can be like an extended family.

He hopes to help other men in a similar situation
(Photo: Daily Mirror)
(Photo: Mirrorpix)

“Life is all about people, people matter the most, I learned so much from Diana, Princess of Wales. She taught me a great deal about life, I have no qualifications of my own but I did go to a great University of Life, the University of Diana. She was an incredible inspirational human being, one whom I loved very much and I think that when you’ve loved someone in life and you lose them you carry them with you for the rest of your life.

“If the Princess was still here of course she’d be sat on the front row with the biggest hat and she’d be the one making the most noise. I hope she’d say ‘I’m proud of you, Paul, for standing up and being counted. I’m proud of you to follow your path, your true path in life.’

“It’s not the end of a life, it’s not the end of my story, it’s just the beginning of a new one and now I can stand proud with someone I lover very much, and go forward in public with them. Before I couldn’t do that, before I had to hide and walk one step behind me but now I can stand side by side.

He was very close to Princess Diana
(Photo: Daily Mirror)
Paul says Diana would be proud
(Photo: Rex)

“Now perhaps I can help some of you out there, some of you who are struggling with your sexuality or maybe inside a marriage. There is a way forward, I never thought there was and I never thought I would ever come to this point in life, I never thought that this would happen to me but it has and once the genie is out the bottle, it’s out and you have to get on with it, and that’s what I intend to do.

“The wedding isn’t a lavish affair, it’s in a secret location in the Lake District but it will be attended by 50 of our closest family and friends, people who want to share in our happieness. I’m looking forward to it very much, because I think from that point on I’ll realise that life has changed.”

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