KARL Stefanovic has unleashed on Princess Diana's former butler Paul Burrell live on television this morning, taking him to task over his comments that Kate Middleton doesn't have the "X factor."

In an earlier interview with Nine News, Burrell was not shy in vocalising his opinion of the royal family member, saying "I met Mother Teresa - she had it, Pope John Paul II had it, the Queen has it, Diana certainly had it. Kate doesn't."

He said that while Kate is a, "lovely, lovely girl," that "extra something, which you call the X factor," is not there.

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As the comments made headlines worldwide, Burrell appeared on Today via satellite from the Gold Coast to discuss his time as Princess Diana's friend and confidante - but Stefanovic had other ideas.

"We have a lot to talk about this morning, but first I want to ask you about your comments about Kate Middleton ... That's way too harsh, isn't it?" he asked.

"How DARE you even say that."

"Well, because you see, standing beside someone like Diana I saw something so special and so magical that I can't - I have never seen that," Burrell stammered.

"How often have you stood beside Kate?" Stefanovic asked his guest.

"No, I haven't. I don't know Kate. I just see her the way you see her, through a lens," said Burrell.

Paul Burrell appeared shocked by the line of questioning.
Paul Burrell appeared shocked by the line of questioning. Nine

Burrell went on to describe Middleton as a "beautiful lady" who "should be Queen of England," insisting his earlier 'X factor' comments had been "taken out of context."

"With respect, you are not taking anything out of context, you are saying it again and again and again that she doesn't measure up to these other people in front of the camera. It is ridiculous," said Stefanovic.

"Why don't you leave Kate alone? Do you have some sort of oxygen deprivation at the moment?" he continued.

"I mean, come on. Leave her alone. She is a mother of two doing the very best she can. She is awesome."

Stefanovic's co-host Lisa Wilkinson steered the conversation into calmer waters, asking Burell about his memories of his time with Diana.

Stefanovic couldn't resist another jab, though: "If William is king one day and I found out you had said that about Kate I wouldn't be letting you back into the country," he interjected.

Burrell pleaded with the host to "let it go," before conceding that "there's a line. If you cross it you get shot. Karl shot me this morning."

As the pair ended their on-air stoush, Stefanovic had one parting quip for Burrell: "I would invite you over for a barbecue but I have pictures of William, Kate and Harry everywhere all over my house and I don't think you would like it."

Perhaps surprisingly, viewers seemed less than impressed with Stefanovic's confrontational style, with Twitter commentary overwhelmingly in Burrell's favour:

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