Princes William and Harry launched a devastating assault on their late mother Princess Diana's former butler, Paul Burrell, on Friday following a week of tabloid newspaper revelations from private letters disclosed in a book to be published this week.
They accused him of a cold and overt betrayal of their mother. The unprecedentedly strong language of their intervention effectively undermines Burrell's claim to be defending the memory of Princess Diana and discloses the sense of anger and betrayal the royal family feels about the book's publication.
In a terse three-sentence statement, issued from Clarence House, London, the princes said: "We cannot believe that Paul, who was entrusted with so much, could abuse his position in such a cold and overt betrayal. It was not only deeply painful for the two of us but also for everyone else affected and it would mortify our mother if she were alive today and, if we might say so, we feel we are more able to speak for our mother than Paul. We ask Paul please to bring these revelations to an end."
Sealing a miserable week for the royal family, one of Prince Charles's most senior former aides said on Friday that the heir is a weak figure who lacks self-belief and is incapable of standing up to his courtiers.
Mark Bolland, the prince's former deputy private secretary, claims in his first newspaper interview that Charles was indirectly responsible for the airing of the embarrassing revelations in Burrell's book because he failed to stop his prosecution for alleged theft of Diana's possessions.
Bolland says the prosecution was "a complete fuck-up that should never have happened. Nobody has benefited from the prosecution. Everybody involved has been damaged by it. And the Prince of Wales should have done more to stop it. But he's not a terribly strong person. I just think he lacks a lot of confidence. He doesn't have a lot of self-belief. He doesn't have a lot of inner strength."
Bolland's attack will be particularly bruising coming from the once hyper-loyal spin doctor who had a reputation for ruthless handling of anyone or anything that threatened to besmirch the prince's reputation. He was also widely credited with masterminding Camilla Parker Bowles' stealthy passage into public life alongside the prince.
Bolland says he believes Burrell would not have gone public with his revelations, contained in his book A Royal Duty to be published tomorrow, if he had not felt "hounded" by the royal family. Extracts of the book were published by the Daily Mirror newspaper last week. They contained the revelation that Princess Diana had written a letter 10 months before her death alleging that there was a plot to kill her in a car crash.
Bolland said the princess's former butler was wrong to have gone public.
"It's wrong to do it but I'm sure he's doing it because he feels alienated. Let's not forget, he's not supersophisticated. He was a butler. He didn't have to be turned into a villain and nobody has benefited from him being turned into a villain," he said.
According to Bolland, Prince Charles could have averted the ultimately disastrous prosecution of Burrell if he had been stronger in the face of pressures from the police and his own legal team. He said the Burrell revelations, and earlier scandals surrounding Prince Charles's servants, would not have surfaced "if the prince had been very strong and determined in saying this prosecution should not go ahead."