In The Style Of Princess Di

Paul Burrell already had worked for the British royal family for 11 years when he served wedding breakfast to Lady Diana Spencer and Prince Charles in July 1981. In his new book, In the Royal Manner, he shares his secrets for elegant entertaining.

Early Show Co-Anchor Jane Clayson and Burrell shared a chat and some tea at the Palm Court in New York's Plaza Hotel.

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"Simplicity is the key to elegant entertaining," he says.

To make any party better, Burrell has three simple rules:

  • Relax. Enjoy yourself.
  • Resist the urge to try anything outrageous or anything you haven't tried before.
  • Keep it simple. And remember your budget.
Also, remember to be a good guest.

"I think it's important to put pen to paper and thank people for a wonderful evening or a present," Burrell advises.

"To be a [good] guest, remember to take along a gift when you go to visit someone - tea or a candle or something appropriate for the evening."

When you are hosting a meal, you can dress up the table by folding the napkins in elegant shapes.

"Remember that Irish linen is the best in the world," says Burrell. "You need square napkins."

Burrell was 8 years old when he first visited Buckingham Palace. At the time, he announced to his parents that he would work there some day.

At 18, Burrell entered service to the royal family. A hotel and catering school graduate, he became a footman to Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip, traveling the world with them and, when at home, he organized the family's entertaining of official visitors and heads of state.

In 1987, he went to work for Prince Charles and Diana Spencer. Five years later, when the couple separated, he remained in Diana's employ, traveling with her on all official and many family trips and, when home in London, he attended to all her home entertaining.

Burrell was the only nonfamily member at Diana's funeral and burial at Althorp, her family home. Shortly after the death of the Princess of Wales, Queen Elizabeth presented Burrell with the Royal Victoria Medal (her special decoration) in recognition of his services to the princess.

He served as the public fund-raiser for the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund until 1998. He lives in England with his wife and two sons.

Princess Diana's style was different from that of the rest of the royal family.

"They entertain on a stage," Burrell explains. "It's very grand and all history and heritage, and to see the royal family performing that way with their diamonds an their beautiful evening dresses and to process to a state banquet, it's quite staged.

"The princess, again, took away all the formality and brought it down to simplicity," he concludes. "We can all bring this back."

Princess Diana's approach to entertaining is the hallmark of In the Royal Manner.

"She's there between those 144 pages," says Burrell. "Her style is through my book."