EARL Spencer's rift with the Windsors ran so deep that he removed the royal standard from the coffin of Diana, Princess of Wales, moments before it was buried and replaced it with a Spencer flag, former butler Paul Burrell claimed last night.

After making the switch in front of the Prince of Wales, Prince William and Prince Harry at Althorp House, the earl announced: ''She is a Spencer now,'' Mr Burrell told the Daily Mirror.

''I knew it was not what Diana would have wanted. With that act, her brother was depriving the princess of her proper status in life - a status of which she was proud,'' he told the newspaper.

A source close to the earl confirmed that the flags had been changed. ''I believe the coffin was covered in a Spencer flag once it had arrived at Althorp,'' the source said.

The source said it was done with the consent of Princes Charles, William and Harry, adding that they ''would have been absolutely content'' for this to happen.

Mr Burrell has also accused Earl Spencer of being a ''hypocrite'' and said his ''stomach churned'' as he listened to the earl's eulogy at Diana's 1997 funeral in Westminster Abbey.

The earl refused to be drawn on Mr Burrell's comments


A former bodyguard of Diana yesterday poured scorn on Mr Burrell's account of his private meeting with the Queen.

Ken Wharfe, a former Scotland Yard protection officer also revealed that Diana had called him her ''rock'' and also used the term for her chef, her chauffeur and her secretary.

He said: ''I seriously question, from my experience, that the Queen, given her busy schedule, would entertain

Burrell for three hours on a matter that at best would take 15 minutes to discuss - this sounds like something from the pages of a best-selling work of