Tuesday, June 30, 1998 Published at 22:12 GMT 23:12 UK
You say Althorp and I say Altrup
Earl Spencer's handwritten note to the BBC
In the week that the late Princess Diana's home opens to the public, Althorp has remained a matter of controversy.
Ever since Diana's tragic death, broadcasters and residents of Northamptonshire have been at odds over the issue. Locals say it should be pronounced as it is spelt.
But Diana's brother, Earl Spencer and estate landlord since the death of his father in 1992, insists it should be pronounced All-trup (phonetically written įwltrop).
Last September the BBC, BSkyB and ITN agreed that they should all refer to the estate as awlthorp on the basis that most people say the word as it is written. But the debate raged on.
Rebel without a clause
Even within the BBC, there is some debate about the issue, even though the Corporation has officially decided to use awlthorp.
The BBC Pronunciation Unit, acknowledged experts on their subject, favour pronouncing Althorp the Earl's way, arguing that since the estate belongs to him, he can call it whatever he chooses.
"It's the same for Spencer as for anyone else. If you call your house by a name which is perhaps a little bit unusual then the way in which you pronounce it is correct. What your neighbours say is irrelevant. And in this case that's what we think about the estate."
Nevertheless, Nicholas Moss, the BBC Broadcast's Head of Policy Management insists that the Corporation's policy should be followed.
'Foreign visitors' to blame
Right or wrong, Earl Spencer himself confirmed awltrop as his favoured way to say the name of his family estate in a handwritten note to the Pronunciation Unit five years ago.
He went on to say that at school he gave up "the unequal struggle" and welcomed the chance to put things straight.
Perhaps the Earl should consider an additional exhibit to his estate museum - an audio-visual guide to pronunciation.