Skip to Content

Compelling insider's story or just tittle-tattle?

10 November 2003

Perhaps even more amazing, for the cynical royal-watcher, is the fact that Burrell is planning a 25-city US book tour and that his American publisher has put in hand a huge print-run. Can there still be so much worldwide interest in this rather tired saga? Some feel it might be time to let the Princess rest in peace, but this story still promises a storehouse of insiders' gossip still to be made public.

There's an interesting contrast with the reception to America's own royalty with Hilary Clinton's book. Living History seems to have sold well internationally but the Chinese situation, still unresolved, continues to provide a source of embarrassment. Her memoir was censored either by the Chinese authorities or by the Chinese publisher (no-one seems to know which) without any consultation with the author or with the American publisher. The passages removed relate to Chinese government policy, human rights and the repression of the media. The International Publishers Association has protested, saying that 'this is a case of censorship that not only violates intellectual property rights, but also curtails Ms Clinton's right to free expression.' It's an own-goal for the Chinese, drawing the world's attention to the degree of censorship still commonplace in everyone's favourite boom country.

Many British book-buyers may be bemused by the extraordinary amount of attention paid to the new book by Princess Diana's former butler, Paul Burrell, which has been a media sensation over the last two weeks. Since the book was 'gutted' for the serialisation, sales might have been expected to be disappointing. Much to Penguin's delight, it seems to have been flying off the shelves and a large reprint is already in hand, even though it has been condemned by some of the media. Boyd Tonkin in the Independent said it was 'a terrible book' and condemned Penguin for taking part in this 'squalid royal pantomime.'