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Wednesday, July 1, 1998 Published at 23:53 GMT 00:53 UK


UK

Althorp opens for Diana tribute

Visitors paid tribute at a temple built in Princess Diana's memory

Around 2,500 people have visited the last resting place of Diana, Princess of Wales as Althorp Park was opened for the first time since her death.


The BBC had the first camera inside the Althorp memorial - court correspondent Jennie Bond reports
The majority of visitors were pleased with how the princess has been remembered at the family estate in Northamptonshire.

Earl Spencer has created a museum in a converted stable block dedicated to his sister's memory which includes her school report, a card from Prince Charles and many of her outfits.

Long queues formed with visitors particulary keen to see the wedding dress in which she married Prince Charles.


[ image: A stable block has been converted into a museum]
A stable block has been converted into a museum
Earl Spencer himself greeted visitors to the museum on Wednesday, what would have been his sister's 37th birthday.

The tiny villages that surround Althorp House, once home to Diana, Princess of Wales, have been preparing themselves for the influx of visitors.

More than 150,000 ticket-holders are expected to visit the estate grounds and view the island where Diana's body is buried over the next two months.

Up to 2,000 guests a day will get to watch hours of family home movies showing Diana playing and dancing.


The first of the 150,000 people to visit Althorp
Police are asking people who are not visiting Althorp to stay away from the area. The local highway authority has closed off one access road to the neighbouring village of Great Brington in an effort to minimise disruption and smooth the flow of traffic to the estate.

Villagers 'hoping for the best'

The villagers themselves seem to be taking things in their stride. "We don't actually know what it's going to be like until it starts. We're hoping for the best," said Christine Whiley, who runs the Great Brington post office.


[ image: Earl Spencer met visitors to the museum]
Earl Spencer met visitors to the museum
Diana's brother, Earl Spencer, is the landlord and he has made the effort to include locals in his project, giving them a guided preview of the exhibition rooms - provided they refused to talk to the media.

Local businesses may benefit from the influx of visitors. Accommodation is booked out and pubs and restaurants are already geared up for plenty of custom.

Colin Ward, landlord of the Fox and Hounds pub at nearby Harlestone, said he has seen a 25% increase in trade since Diana's death, and had served about 1,000 meals a day.

"It has been very different. We have seen people from all over the world," he said. "I think the Earl has handled the situation very well. I have a lot of admiration for how he has put it together."
BBC Court Correspondent Jennie Bond on some of the items on display

At the last count, there were around 8,000 tickets left despite rumours of a sell-out. "One problem was that people wrongly thought that every day had sold out following the initial surge of publicity," an estate spokesperson said.

Black market fears

All tickets have the names of the buyer printed on them, to prevent black market sales. However, tickets for the opening day were changing hands for almost six times their £9.50 face value.


[ image: The island burial place of Diana shortly after her death]
The island burial place of Diana shortly after her death
Some reports even claim that black market tickets have been selling for up to £100.

The estate will close its doors again on August 30. The following day, the anniversary of Diana's death, the Spencer family will hold a graveside service.

Prince Charles, his sons and other members of the Royal family will attend a service near Balmoral, the Royal estate in Scotland.



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30 Jun 98†|†UK
You say Althorp and I say Altrup

16 Jun 98†|†UK
Earl 'drained' by Diana films





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