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Princess Di’s butler faces trial in theft

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LONDON — Princess Diana's former butler was ordered Thursday to stand trial this fall on charges of stealing hundreds of items belonging to the late princess and other members of the royal family.

Paul Burrell, 43, who is free on bail, faces three counts of theft for allegedly taking 328 items, including letters, a bullwhip, records and CDs, from Diana, Prince Charles and Prince William on or before June 30, 1998, at Kensington Palace. His trial was called for Oct. 14.

He denies all the charges. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.

At a separate hearing, a judge ordered another former royal butler, Harold Brown, to stand trial on Dec. 2 for stealing items from the princess, including a $735,000 jeweled Arabian dhow, a wedding gift from the Emir of Bahrain.

The men, who made brief appearances in separate courtrooms, did not enter pleas.

Burrell was initially arrested on suspicion of theft in January 2001. Police who searched his home in northwestern England allegedly found dozens of Diana's personal items.

Burrell maintains all were given to him by Diana for safekeeping and his lawyers have accused authorities of subjecting him to a "show trial."

Burrell, a truck driver's son who worked for the royal family for 21 years, has written books on etiquette and given speeches about his life with Diana but has not worked as a butler since her death in a car crash in 1997.

Brown, 48, who once worked for both Diana and the queen's sister, Princess Margaret, is also charged with stealing earrings, a bangle and a brooch belonging to Diana. He is free on bail.