Call for Heathrow airport to be named after Diana

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The Independent Online
The desire for permanent memorials to Diana, Princess of Wales, prompted calls yesterday for Heathrow Airport to be re-named and for a children's hospital in her honour to be built in place of the Millennium Dome.

As tens of thousands of pounds flooded in to the Diana, Princess of Wales, Memorial Fund, the debate began over other appropriate memorials to the princess.

Lindsay Hoyle, Labour MP for Chorley, wrote to BAA, which operates Heathrow, urging a name change which would echo Paris's Charles de Gaulle and New York's John F Kennedy airports in honouring national heroes. William Hague, the Conservative leader, backed the idea.

Tory MP Sir Teddy Taylor called for the cancellation of the Millennium Dome at Greenwich and for an international children's hospital to be built on the site instead. He said he had received hundreds of letters of support for the idea.

A Downing St spokesman said the special committee headed by the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, which will examine memorial ideas, would take cross-party soundings on all suggestions. "Nothing is ruled out and nothing is ruled in."

Donations poured into the memorial fund. Around 350 mourners an hour have called a 24-hour credit card line to make pledges, and extra BT volunteers have been drafted in to help.

The average size of each donation was pounds 20, making pounds 7,000 an hour and pounds 168,000 a day. These sums supplement thousands of cheques filling post bags to Kensington Palace, said Kate Day, of Mishcon de Reya, the law firm which acted for the princess and which will administer the fund.

About 2,700 cheques have been cleared so far. Nearly all come from private individuals, most of whom have sent between pounds 5 and pounds 10.

Only two trustees - Anthony Julius, the princess's lawyer, and Michael Gibbins, her private secretary - have been appointed for the fund so far. No decisions have been made as to whether it will be a short-term or long- term institution, but among the charities likely to benefit are those Princess Diana was associated with at her death.

The fund will be boosted tonight by proceeds from the game between Fulham football club, whose chairman is Mohamed al-Fayed, and Plymouth Argyle.

Mr al-Fayed, whose son, Dodi, died with Princess Diana, will make his first public appearance since her funeral tonight. A lone piper will play a lament, which will be followed by a minute's silence.

Richard Branson has discussed recording a Christmas album in memory of Diana ,with performers including Sir Paul McCartney, Phil Collins, Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti, Sting, and Bryan Adams. He hopes to include Elton John's newly recorded version of Candle In The Wind, which was performed at the funeral and is expected to make millions for the fund when it is released in the next few days.

Mr Branson said he also hoped to set up annual anniversary concerts.

As Britain slowly returned to normal yesterday, the Union Flag, which was flown at half-mast over Buckingham Palace following public protests, was finally lowered.

Workers will begin today to remove the flowers from Kensington and Buckingham Palaces, keeping the messages for the princes and taking surviving blooms to the elderly and hospitals.

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