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CNN SUNDAY MORNING

Interview With Jeff McAllister

Aired November 17, 2002 - 07:53   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ARTHEL NEVILLE, CNN ANCHOR: The British tabloids are having a field day with the mess surrounding the monarchy, which began with revelations from Princess Diana's butler. Prince Charles has ordered an internal investigation into allegations of homosexual rape and the sale of royal gifts from the palace. Will that move, widely seen as damage control, be enough to satisfy critics of the royal family?
And joining us with some insight is Jeff McAllister. He's "Time" magazine's London bureau chief. You know, Jeff, I'm afraid to ask, what exactly are the London papers saying this morning about this monarchy mess?

JEFF MCALLISTER, TIME LONDON BUREAU CHIEF: Well, it actually seems to have subsided. Sunday's the big day for these sorts of revelations. There isn't much. I think that we may have gotten to the bottom of the barrel, so to speak.

There's talk now of more wild parties in Buckingham Palace among the servants, where there's drugs and sex and vomit. But it's not really quite at the heart of anything important. It just sounds like people having a good time on -- at their time off.

But so far, we have to see something more -- we haven't seen anything more in today's papers.

NEVILLE: Okay, well and plus there are some other concerns in the papers over there today. Listen, let's talk about Paul Burrell.

MCALLISTER: Yes.

NEVILLE: He is Princess Diana's former butler. He said, you know, he has sold these gifts from the royal palace. And he says this is not about money, this is about getting to the truth of preserving the royal family reputation, which is why he is speaking out. What is up with this guy?

MCALLISTER: Well, he actually didn't sell gifts. I mean, he was on trial for having stolen gifts.

NEVILLE: Okay.

MCALLISTER: The trial collapsed when the queen herself said he told me that he's going to be taking some things. There's no evidence that he ever did take any -- sell anything. And that was one of the things that the police had alleged to the queen and to Prince Charles, at which they weren't able to prove. He seems to be truly besotted with her, still kind of in love with her. His pajamas are in his -- her pajamas are in his bedroom still. He had pictures and memorabilia. When he was thinking of committing suicide as he was -- during the trial, he says he just thought if he could join his princess again, all would be well.

NEVILLE: But excuse me...

MCALLISTER: His wife says...

NEVILLE: This guy had wife, exactly. What about thinking about her?

MCALLISTER: Well, I know, a wife and two children.

NEVILLE: Exactly.

MCALLISTER: It was very unusual relationship he had with Princess Diana. She would call him at all hours of the night. He would -- he sneaked her lovers into Kensington Palace. He drove around at night with her as she gave...

NEVILLE: I hear like in trunks of cars and everything, is that true? Sometimes in trunks of cars?

MCALLISTER: That's right, yes. In his -- in the trunk of his car. He would sneak his -- her lovers in sometimes. And he would drive her around to give money to prostitutes around Paddington Station late at night. This was not a typical master servant relationship. And he still -- I mean, he says, he confesses in a way, I'm having trouble getting over her.

He's in counseling, but you'll see I think on the television programs that are going to be in the U.S. this week, that he really hasn't gotten over her. He's still really in love with her.

NEVILLE: But I still don't understand why he's speaking out?

MCALLISTER: Well, most of the rotten stuff, most of the things that have made most of the headlines have not come from him. He had to make a little money, frankly, to -- after the trial. And he sold his story to one of the papers here, but not for as much money.

He sold his story for about $400,000. The other papers were offering up to $3 million if he would dish all the dirt. But he didn't dish all the dirt, but they managed to get it through stealing, apparently, his statements to his own lawyers about how much he knew.

So he really has been actually kind of decorous in what he has been willing to say.

NEVILLE: Okay.

MCALLISTER: He's wanted to get back at her family, but he hasn't dished most of the dirt. That's come from other people.

NEVILLE: All right, Jeff McAllister, thank you for keeping up with that royal mess. I can't keep up.

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