Leading article: A thousand reasons to wind up Diana charity

Click to follow
LAST NIGHT, on Panorama, the acting chairman of the Diana Memorial Fund, Anthony Julius, was still defending the official use of Diana's name to promote tubs of margarine. To him, it was a choice between that and depriving cancer patients, the homeless and leprosy victims."For me it's not a decision that takes more than a second to reach."

But if Mr Julius and the other trustees spent a little more time pondering the impact of their decisions they would quickly come to the conclusion that the marketing of Di is a self-defeating project.

The Diana charity has funds that will soon exceed pounds 200m. This is a sizeable sum, and, one would think, more than enough to be getting along with. But the Trustees have taken it upon themselves to raise still more from merchandising. Hence the tubs of marge. Hence the first toy to be endorsed by the trustees - a 9in tall "Princess" bear, which comes with a sugary and embarrassing verse describing Diana as an angel. There are said to be a further 1,000 money-making proposals awaiting consideration, all, no doubt, equally dreadful. With rare exceptions, the memory of Diana is simply not amenable to this kind of marketing. It is not the same as selling the Teletubbies or Manchester United. Any product that exploits Diana's memory will almost inevitably fall on the wrong side of good taste, end up offending people, and so damage the very causes which are supposed to be the beneficiaries.

The Trustees should recognise that this kind of cringe-making marketing should be left to the professional tat-mongers who make Diana dolls in "poseable, lifelike vinyl". They would be better advised to disburse the existing funds gradually to charities the Princess was known to be fond of, who will make excellent use of the money. For the sake of Diana's memory and, for what it is worth, the dignity of the monarchy, the Trustees should follow Earl Spencer's original advice and wind the fund up by the end of the year.