LONDON (AP) -- The prosecution dropped theft charges against Princess Diana's former butler Friday after intervention by the queen who said that Paul Burrell told her he had taken the items for safekeeping shortly after Diana was killed in a Paris car crash.
The royal revelation brought a sudden end to a trial that has fascinated Britain and put on public display details about the wildly popular Diana's private life.
Prosecutor William Boyce said the charges were dropped after hearing that Queen Elizabeth II knew Burrell had taken the objects.
"The prosecution have formed the view that there would no longer be a realistic prospect of conviction in this case," Boyce said. "The only appropriate course is to offer no further evidence against Mr. Burrell and to invite the court to direct that verdicts of 'not guilty' should be entered in this case."
Judge Anne Rafferty discharged the jury at London's Old Bailey court, and told Burrell he was free to go. Upon hearing the news, Burrell sobbed and hugged his lawyer.
"The queen has come through for me," Burrell said as he left the court. "I'm thrilled, I'm so thrilled."
The 44-year-old Burrell, whom Diana called "my rock," pleaded innocent to three charges relating to the theft of hundreds of items from the princess and other members of the royal family. Diana was killed on Aug. 31, 1997.
Burrell was accused of taking more than 300 items between Jan. 1, 1997, and June 30, 1998. The property allegedly included letters, photos, and compact discs owned by Diana, Prince Charles or their son, Prince William, at Kensington Palace, Diana's London home.
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