As we all eagerly anticipate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebration this weekend, there’s one person who will be paying particularly close attention to the dates.
Having been the butler and “best friend” of Diana, Princess of Wales for 10 years up until her death in 1997, Paul Burrell tells OK! he’s especially interested in how things pan out between the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex.
Paul also tells us that seeing the pictures of Harry and his wife Meghan at a polo match in California last week made him feel “sad.”
Body language expert Judi James says Meghan is displaying “over-possessive and maternal” behavior after she was pictured pulling Harry in for a kiss, then wiping away the lipstick traces she’d left behind. According to Judi, “Meghan adopted ‘command, control, steer’ mode, placing both hands around Harry’s face as they kissed.”
Get exclusive royal stories and fabulous photoshoots straight to your inbox with OK!’s daily newsletter.
And Paul, 63, who lives in Cheshire with his husband of five years, Graham Cooper, thinks this is concerning. Although he admits he felt thrilled when Harry first met Meghan and had high hopes for their romance, he has had a change of heart.
“I thought that Meghan was this breath of fresh air who would modernise the royal family and bring all the vital elements that were missing, but what kind of love is this? I feel that, from her body language at the polo, she came across as smothering,” says Paul.
“I think Harry is totally besotted with her. He’s given everything up. Of all the people I want to be happy, it’s Harry.”
And while Paul credits Meghan with “fixing” Harry after his mother’s death, he is worried about him.
Paul adds, “I think people have missed the fact he married a 36-year-old woman. That is very significant because his mother was 36 when she died. I think he was looking for someone mature to guide him. He wasn’t looking for a fling. I think he was looking for someone serious to put him back on the path he’d lost because his mother died. His heart broke and nobody could fix it until Meghan came along. Meghan fixed it.”
But Paul isn’t convinced that Harry is happy with his new life in the States. “Trying to resurrect his life by playing polo in Santa Barbara isn’t going to cut the mustard,” he says. “It’s not the Guards Polo Club at Windsor where everyone he went to school with plays polo. What mates is he going to find in California? He’s not grown up there with anyone.”
Paul predicts that at some point Harry will return to the UK and be reconciled with William. “Harry’s going to need his brother one day. I think he will come back to this country with his tail between his legs. His brother will put his arms around him and say, ‘Welcome home, Harry.’
“I don’t think he’s totally happy. I think he’s missing his brother, I really do. I think he’s missing his family, I think he’s missing his friends and the lifestyle he had here in England. I think he’s given everything up for Meghan and I don’t know how long he’s going to be able to live that life.”
But despite all the drama, one person who will be very happy to see Harry is the Queen.
Become an OK! VIP and you will unlock access to all of our big exclusives…
Be the first to meet the latest showbiz babies, see the most sought after wedding pictures of the year, or take a guided tour around your favorite star’s lavish multi-million pound home – all for free!
Sign up here
“She adores Harry!” Paul tells us. “She never refuses to take his calls when he rings and she always chats with him. Harry makes her laugh. He’s fun and he isn’t as serious as William. He can crack a joke in front of her and she’ll laugh.
“But – there’s a big but. Harry is warm and fun to be with but the family will be careful around him.”
And Paul suggests that William – who visited London’s Royal Marsden hospital last week to hear about work to improve cancer diagnosis and treatment – needs to show more emotion.
“He needs to smile more. William has always been very measured and very careful and safe. He can’t change his personality but I just want him to warm up a bit,” he says.
Paul, who spent a lot of time with the boys when they were small, says that despite being a more “measured” character, William will be just as cut up about the brothers’ estrangement as Harry is. “He must think of Harry every single day. He’s his brother, he’s made of the same stuff. And they went through the same turmoil and tragedy. They only had each other to rely on really.”
But despite William’s serious public persona, Paul says Kate will see a different side to her husband. “I think behind closed doors Kate has been his savior because she makes him melt. Behind closed doors he can get on the floor with his children and be more natural and be a dad to his kids.”
And he thinks Kate – who joined her husband at a Buckingham Palace garden party last week – is the “mediator who could bring Harry and William together again”.
So with much being made of the fact that Harry and Meghan won’t be invited onto the Buckingham Palace balcony following Trooping The Color this week, given they’re no longer working members of the royal family, does Paul think this will bother them?
“I think Meghan’s producing, directing and starring in her own version of her life – her own biopic – which is playing out on the American stage.”
“I think they will care that they’re not on the balcony because that is a picture that will relate to their American platform,” he explains.
“The picture of them with the Queen is an acceptance that they still belong to the club. But they don’t belong to the club any more.”
He continues, “I think everyone will treat Meghan and Harry like handling a porcupine – very prickly. You need to be careful as you might get hurt!”
And according to the former butler, it’s likely that Harry will meet his family in private before any public appearances to try to clear the air. “I think Harry will have to see his father and his brother before the public sees him. They’ll have to iron out some creases before we see him with his family. I think Charles and William see Harry as a bit of a loose cannon now.
“If they didn’t see him I think that would rile Harry even more and who knows what might happen in the public eye. It’s damage limitation.”
But the public will have a different view of Harry, according to Paul. “The world will be watching Meghan and Harry and William and Kate and not focusing on the Queen,” he says.
“They have the potential of stealing the show because we’re all fascinated to know how Harry’s going to fit back into his family.”
Talking about how Harry will cope with being with his family again, Paul predicts it’s going to be awkward. He says, “I think Harry’s going to look completely out of place and bewildered. I think he’s a lost soul.
He doesn’t have a place or a chair at the table any more. So I think to come back to this environment will be very difficult. Knowing what will come out in his memoir when it’s published, listen, he’s torn.”
As Diana’s close confidante and “rock”, what does Paul think she would make of the rift between her beloved sons? “She’d be heartbroken. It wouldn’t have got as bad as this if she was still here,” he tells us. “She’d have banged their heads together. She’s probably the only person that could have done that. If Diana had been here [the rift] would never have happened.”
Paul talks about how strong the bond was between William and Harry growing up, saying, “It’s incomprehensible to think about the boys being so distanced. I cannot get my head around it. I saw those boys grow up and they were tighter than you can possibly believe. They referred to each other about everything. When Diana died I thought they would be inseparable.”
On a more positive note, Paul believes the Queen will be overwhelmed by the jubilee celebrations. “I think the Queen’s heart will melt when she sees the adoration from her people. She’s worked all her life to be accepted and loved by her people. She has a very soft heart, I’ve seen that kindness first-hand.”
But referring to the loss of her beloved Philip last year, Paul said he feels like she’s “shrunk” since his death and adds, “I just feel sad for her that she’ll be standing there on her own without the man who guided her .”
For all the latest stories on Meghan, Harry and the rest of the Royal Family, sign up for OK! ‘s Royals newsletter here.
For a chance to explore the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace, enter our competition here