LONDON (AP) – Princess Diana’s former butler has a secret, but he can’t remember what it is.

Paul Burrell, testifying Monday at a coroner’s inquest into her death, said the answer might be in a journal he kept but was unwilling to disclose. He later said there was no journal, he never kept one.

He was also most reluctant to say which member of the royal family told Diana she should beware of surveillance, but he did write the name down and pass it to the coroner, Lord Justice Scott Baker. Baker looked at the note, and said it had no relevance to the proceeding.

Later, in an increasingly surreal day, Baker said the surveillance warning did not come from Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip or Sarah, Duchess of York. Burrell’s note was given to a court official for safekeeping, and not disclosed.

The upshot was that Burrell was urged to go to his home in Cheshire in northwestern England to retrieve the documents he does have, and lawyers were poised to seek any copies held by Burrell’s ghostwriter or his publishers.

Whatever the secret was, Burrell said it had nothing to do with Dodi Fayed, whose death with Diana in a Paris car crash on Aug. 31, 1997, is also a subject of the inquest.

In his book “A Royal Duty,” published in 2003, Burrell quoted a note that Diana wrote to him not long before she died. “This coming weekend is an important one,” she wrote, and she was touched that he shared her excitement.

“What a secret!” the note said.

What was it? attorney Michael Mansfield asked Burrell.

He wouldn’t say. Pressed by Mansfield, Burrell said he knew, but that it “had nothing to do with Dodi Al Fayed.”

Later he said, “I cannot remember what that particular secret was.”

Burrell said notes of his thoughts and feelings while working with Diana were handed over to ghostwriter Steve Dennis, and then destroyed.

Burrell first told Mansfield, who represents Fayed’s father, Mohamed Al Fayed, that he kept a diary.

“As the princess had taught me and as the queen had taught me to keep a diary and to keep a journal, I kept a note of those events because it’s part of history and I think that history should be written by those who witnessed, not those who weren’t there,” Burrell said.

But he resisted Baker’s request that he produce the documents.

“My journal and diary, they are intimate and very private and very personal to me and I personally do not think that there is any connection to the circumstances surrounding the princess’ death involved in those diaries.”

After lunch, Burrell said journal “was not a word I would use,” and that he didn’t keep one.

“That does seem rather a different picture from the picture you painted earlier,” Baker said.

“I am sorry if I misled you, sir, that’s my fault. I apologize,” Burrell said.

He said he did have notes that Diana sent to him, and also a copy of his sensational note of a conversation with the queen, in which she warned him to be careful. “There are powers at work in this country of which we have no knowledge.”

Burrell agreed to retrieve those documents from his home, but wanted to get legal advice before agreeing to disclose them to the inquest.

“Mr. Burrell, will you please set off hotfoot for Cheshire?” Baker said as Monday’s hearing closed. Burrell is expected to be back on the stand Tuesday.

Burrell testified that Diana’s mother, the late Frances Shand-Kydd, had destroyed much of Diana’s private papers. Shand-Kydd had said she destroyed about 100 documents, but Burrell said he carried away half a dozen trash bags filled with shredded paper.

He said he didn’t dare challenge the mother. “Mrs. Shand-Kydd was quite formidable … and she did what she thought best.”

Burrell also testified, reluctantly, that Diana had invited him to listen to a telephone conversation with her mother, who upbraided her daughter in June 1997 for romances with Muslims. That remark came in 1997, before Diana’s romance with Fayed, but toward the end of her affair with heart surgeon Hasnat Khan.

Burrell said he heard the mother say that Diana was “a whore and that she was (expletive deleted) around with Muslim men.”

“She said some very nasty things,” Burrell said.

He said the affair with Khan lasted at least 18 months, but he described the romance with Fayed as a “30-day relationship.”

“The princess had just finished a long-term relationship with someone she cared deeply about,” Burrell said. “I know that, because I was there. I saw it.”

Burrell described Diana as being “on the rebound from that relationship when she met someone who was very kind and attentive and generous.”

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AP-ES-01-14-08 1625EST

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