Diana memorial hotline jammed

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The Althorp Estate in Northamptonshire, the final resting place of Diana, Princess of Wales, is set to become one of the most popular summer destinations for day-trippers.

Yesterday, the hotline for tickets opened and almost immediately became jammed. Perhaps after the mass-grieving in September they should have known, but yesterday staff at Althorp said even they could not have predicted quite the degree of public interest in visiting the family estate where Diana is buried.

From the moment the telephone lines opened at 9am, the operators, around 200 of them, were besieged by calls from people wanting to visit the grounds and the converted stable block that will house an exhibition on the princess's life. By late yesterday evening, staff were dealing with more than 500 inquiries an hour and had sold 10,000 tickets.

"This was entirely unprecedented," said an estate spokeswoman. "We always knew it was going to be busy but we were never sure just how busy. We have been receiving calls from all over, from America, Germany, and Holland. There has been great interest."

Tickets are being limited to six per person.

One aspect that might put some people off is the cost of the tickets. At pounds 9.50 for adults, pounds 7 for senior citizens and pounds 5 for children, a trip to Althorp will not be the cheapest of days out.

Earl Spencer's battle against the Government for allegedly failing to protect his family's privacy is to be heard by the European Commission on Human Rights in Strasbourg on 19 January. The complaint lodged by the Earl and his former wife, Victoria Lockwood, concern press reports in 1995 that the former model was being treated at a clinic for eating disorders and alcoholism.