London, Jan 17 : Princess Diana's relationship with Dodi Al Fayed and his family was seen as an alliance made in Hell by the British Establishment, the inquest into her death has heard.
The suggestion came while Dodi's father Mohamed Al Fayed's attorney Michael Mansfield, QC, cross-examined Diana's former butler Paul Burrell, who maintains that the princess' relationship with Dodi had peaked by the time they died in August 1997, and that she never planned to marry him.
However, Al Fayed's legal team suggested that the British royal family saw Diana as a thorn in the side of British vested interests, not only because she was conducting a high-profile campaign against the manufacture and use of landmines, but she was having an affair with an "oily bedhopper", the Muslim son of a businessman with a stained reputation.
Mansfield said that Prince Philip had referred to Dodi as "an oily bedhopper," claiming that the Duke was unimpressed when he learned of Diana's relationship with Dodi in July 1997.
But under cross-examination, Burrell insisted it was "unlikely" the Duke of Edinburgh would use such a phrase.
"I find that very unlikely," Times Online quoted Burrell, as saying.
Mansfield alluded to Prince Philip's infamous gaffes, suggesting: "He is well known for gaffes or whatever about the Chinese and so on."
Burrell countered: "He has made a few mistakes in the past, I can't possibly think that the Duke of Edinburgh would say that... I don't think those are his words."
Mansfield further claimed that Diana's media coverage of her last holiday on board the Fayed yacht Jonikal just before her death, which showed her as an independent woman, must have troubled the Establishment.
However, Burrell said that the Princess was sending a message to her "soul mate" Pakistani heart surgeon Hasnat Khan, who had ended a relationship with her because he could not face the publicity.
"I knew she would not get engaged to Dodi. It was a very fast-moving relationship and it had a very short fuse, whereas the relationship before was a very long relationship," Burrell said.
The former butler also claimed that the Queen admitted she was "concerned" about Diana's relationship with Dodi just weeks before their deaths.
"Her Majesty was concerned that the Princess was rather
over-excited at the moment," he said.