There have been a lot of books about Princess Diana, but the latest, ''A Royal Duty,'' contains explosive new information: a letter, allegedly written by the princess 10 months before her 1997 death in a Paris car crash, in which she eerily predicted her demise by fingering an enemy who she said would tamper with her car's brakes. The book's author, former Diana butler Paul Burrell, published the purported letter Monday in London's Daily Mirror as part of a licensed excerpt from the book, in which he wrote that Diana sealed the letter in an envelope marked ''Paul'' and told him, ''I am going to date this and I want you to keep it... just in case.''
''This particular phase in my life is the most dangerous,'' the Mirror quoted the letter as saying. The paper withheld the name of the person Diana allegedly wrote ''is planning 'an accident' in my car, brake failure and serious head injury in order to make the path clear for Charles to marry.'' Reuters and the Associated Press sought comment from representatives for Prince Charles and the royal family, who declined to comment on the letter.
The letter has already sparked a call for a formal investigation from Mohammed al Fayed, father of Diana's lover Dodi Fayed, who was killed in the crash with Diana and driver Henri Paul. While a French investigation into the crash concluded that it was an accident caused by Paul's high-speed driving while under the influence of alcohol and drugs, al Fayed has long contended that there was a conspiracy behind the deaths of his son and Diana. ''I'm disappointed that it has taken Burrell six years to reveal this extraordinary correspondence, and it raises questions as to what other important secrets he may be harboring,'' AP quoted al Fayed as saying.
AP reported that al Fayed speculated that royal pressure may have kept Burrell from divulging the letter sooner, noting that Burrell was acquitted last year of charges of stealing valuables from Diana's estate after Queen Elizabeth II intervened on his behalf and said he'd had permission to take the items for safekeeping. But Burrell said in a statement that he, too, wants a British inquest into Diana's death. The BBC quoted him as saying he finally published the letter because he believes ''that someone has to stand in the princess' corner and fight for her now that she cannot do so herself.''