22 OCTOBER 2003
Prince Philip may take legal action to stop letters he wrote to Princess Diana being published.
The Queen's 82-year-old husband is said to be deeply concerned after The Mirror published extracts from private correspondence he sent to the Princess. The tabloid newspaper obtained the letters after making a deal with Di's former butler, Paul Burrell, to serialise a book he has written about her.
The Duke of Edinburgh is believed to be worried about the impact the publication will have on Diana's sons, Princes William and Harry. According to sources at Buckingham Palace, he also views the paper's use of his private communications as a "blatant breach of confidence".
In the letters, which were written in 1992, the Duke voices his feelings about Di's troubled marriage to the Prince of Wales. Several of the notes end with the words: "With fondest love, Pa."
As he is the author of the letters, Philip owns copyright of their contents, but possession of the pages themselves is less clear-cut. They could be the property of Princess Diana's estate, and questions have been raised over how Mr Burrell came to be in possession of them.
Buckingham Palace has meanwhile requested an advance copy of the book and is looking into legal options. It has also been revealed that Mr Burrell may face prosecution in France for not handing over the letters when authorities there were investigating Princess Diana's death. Police in Paris want to know why a letter said to be written by Di, in which she appears to predict her death, was not brought to their attention.