When Prince Harry released his tell-all novel Spare in January of 2023, he dropped many bombshells about royal family life. In one of his revelations, Harry wrote that he never gave his brother, Prince William, Princess Diana’s engagement ring ahead of his proposal to Kate Middleton. Why? Because it was never Harry's to give. In his book, Harry says it was William who received the precious jewel after Diana died, despite what the papers reported. Now, their mother’s former butler, Paul Burrell, is setting things straight. On February 21, 2023, Burrell—who worked for Diana from 1987 to 1997—told Daily Mirror that he witnessed Harry asking for Diana’s sapphire and diamond engagement ring while the brothers sorted through their mother’s jewelry collection at Kensington Palace in the aftermath of her death. Meanwhile, William inquired about her Cartier watch, which their late mother received as a 21st birthday gift from her father.
“Harry said to me, ‘I always remember holding mummy’s hand, and that ring hurting me because it was so big,’” the butler recounts. “And that’s why when the boys came to Kensington Palace, I said to them, ‘You must take something of your mother’s. You must take something to remind yourself of your time here at Kensington Palace and your mother’s life.’” According to Burrell, Harry wanted the ring because it represented a fond memory from his childhood. After Harry received the iconic jewel, Burrell remembers that William was happy for his brother because he’s “not materialistic, so he didn’t look for the flashiest jewel in mummy’s collection."
Although the former royal butler isn’t certain about what happened next, he says the two of them must have made a deal. “Harry obviously gave up his treasure to his brother, so that it could be on the ring finger of his wife who would one day be queen,” Burrell reveals. The diamond and sapphire ring appeared on Kate’s finger in 2010 after William popped the question.
After the proposal. the media published stories about how Harry must have given the gem to his brother. In Spare, Harry denied those assumptions, saying William was the original owner. "The papers published florid stories about the moment I realized Willy and Kate were well matched, the moment I appreciated the depth of their love and thus decided to gift Willy the ring I'd inherited from Mummy, the legendary sapphire," he wrote. “A tender moment between brothers, a bonding moment for all three of us, and absolute rubbish. None of it ever happened. I never gave Willy that ring because it wasn't mine to give. He already had it. He'd asked for it after Mummy died, and I'd been more than happy to let it go."
Burrell hasn’t been in contact with William and Harry since an accusation in 2002 that he had stolen items from Diana’s estate. According to Newsweek, Diana’s executors sued after hundreds of objects that belonged to the royal family were found in his home. Burrell was never prosecuted because the court found evidence that he had informed the queen he was storing the items there for safekeeping. Tensions among Burrell, William, and Harry continued after the butler published his 2003 memoir, A Royal Duty, that exposed much of Diana’s private life. “We cannot believe Paul, who was entrusted with so much, could abuse his position in such a cold and overt betrayal,” the brothers said in a statement. “It is 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."