March 31, 2003 10:38 AM

Five months after he was acquitted of allegedly stealing nearly 300 items from Princess Diana, her former butler, Paul Burrell, has won back some of those belongings, PEOPLE’s London bureau reports.

Burrell, 44, who kept the possessions in his house in northwest England, has always maintained that he and his family were given the items as gifts from the princess.

But in August 2001, the former butler was accused of stealing the belongings from Diana, her son Prince William and her former husband Prince Charles.

After a dramatic two-week trial last October, he was suddenly cleared of all charges — when Queen Elizabeth recalled him telling her five years earlier that he had taken some of Diana’s belongings for safekeeping.

Now, following months of negotiations — which possibly threatened to toss the entire situation back into a courtroom — a chapter in this long-running controversy can be closed.

“This is a real relief to him,” a source tells PEOPLE.

The goods are expected to be returned to him in about two weeks. Among them: the dresses and hats that had been given to his wife Maria, and a desk Diana presented to the Burrells’ two sons for the boys to do their homework.

The Davenport desk was a 1981 wedding present to Charles and Diana from the people of the city of Aberdeen, Scotland. These apparently are the only items Burrell had requested.

The remaining possessions, which included sensitive letters, negatives of intimate family photographs and jewelry, are headed for Diana’s childhood home of Althorp, where they will be held for Princes William, 20, and Harry, 18.

Diana’s mother, Frances Shand Kydd, and her older sister, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, administer her estate and will return the belongings to William and Harry, should they want them.

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