Princess Diana's former butler Paul Burrell says Queen Elizabeth gave him "marital advice".

Paul Burrell

Paul Burrell

The 58-year-old former - who was described by the late princess as her "rock" because of their close relationship - may have divorced his wife Maria last year after 32 years of marriage, but he has now admitted it was the 90-year-old monarch who suggested he tie the knot in the first place.

He said: "Her Majesty took me aside and said, 'Paul, the institution of marriage is a wonderful thing - have you thought of getting married?' I said, 'Well, your Majesty, I have, yes'. She replied 'Well there are some lovely girls around the Palace. I'm sure you can find one suitable'.

"Some time later I was in Her Majesty's bedroom and Prince Philip's maid came in to help me. She helped me pull over a cover and smiled at me and I thought, 'How sweet, she's lovely'. That was Maria. We went to Balmoral, very much a party place and somewhere to begin relationships. We got to know each other better and realised we had a great deal in common. I took a picture of her as she was leaving to go back to London. That's the moment I thought, 'Yes, she's the one I'm going to marry'."

And Paul admits when he told the Queen of his intention to marry Maria, she was "absolutely delighted" for him.

He added to the Sunday Mirror newspaper: "She said, 'I'm absolutely delighted, so thrilled for you Paul. You won't regret getting married. Marriage is a wonderful, wonderful thing and when you have children you will realise it is the foundation of life'. So there we have it... the Queen giving me marital advice. Giving me a serious talk, the chance to go forward."

Meanwhile, it was recently revealed Paul is to tie the knot for the second time, with his male lover Graham Cooper.

A spokesperson for Paul said: "I can confirm their forthcoming marriage."