It has recently been reported that Althorp, ancestral home of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, is being opened to the public for weddings and corporate events. As a result, this may cause some consternation from people who think that Diana's brother, Earl Spencer is cashing in on the Diana connection.The article also adds that,
"It will be the first time Althorp has hosted functions since Diana's death in 1997"
Hardly. What these people may not realize is that Althorp has been open to the public since 1953; 8 years before Diana was born, 28 years before Diana's wedding in 1981. I'm sure the Diana factor doesn't hurt, adding a cachet other ancestral estates don't have, but ultimately Althorp was used for commercial purposes well before Diana came along.
The commercial use of an estate is nothing new. Broadlands, where the Queen and Prince Philip spent part of their honeymoon, Balmoral Castle and Sandringham House, two of the Queen's properties are used commercially, Frogmore House and Grounds, containing the mausoleum of Queen Victoria, Harewood house, another estate with a royal connection, is open to the public. Princess Mary, the Princess Royal (mother of George Lascelles, 7th Earl of Harewood) is also buried within the grounds. Do we see people up in arms over that?
For people who think Earl Spencer is cashing in, it should be noted that Althorp has a legal obligation to open to the public for at least 60 days each year. This applies to every stately home in the UK that contains outstanding works of art. I have been to Althorp, and other than a portrait and a few photos scattered about, the actual house doesn't really mention Diana. The bedroom touted as 'The Princess of Wales' room, was named in honour of Princess Alexandra, Princess of Wales, wife of the future King Edward VII. The Diana exhibit, tastefully done I might add, is only open for three months of the year. From July 1 to August 30, and all profits are donated to the Princess of Wales Memorial fund.
When Earl Spencer starts renting out Diana's wedding dress, then we'll start to worry
© Marilyn Braun 2006
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