Diana concert hits sour note for some
Brother criticized for cashing in on her deathJune 26, 1998
Web posted at: 5:37 p.m. EDT (2137 GMT)
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NORTHAMPTONSHIRE, England (CNN) -- A controversial concert in memory of the late Princess Diana takes place Saturday at her former home, not far from where she was buried after her death in a Paris car crash last August.
At 39.50 pounds ($63) per person, the sold-out pop concert at Althorp, the Spencer ancestral estate 100 kilometers (62 miles) north of London, is among the most expensive ever organized in Britain.
Earl Spencer, the princess's brother and concert organizer, justified the price by emphasizing that Diana's charities would be among the first to benefit through the Diana, Princess of Wales, Memorial Fund.
Exactly how much money the charities will receive will be decided after the concert.
Neither Prince Charles, Diana's former husband, nor her sons, princes William and Harry, will attend the music fest.
Pop singer Phil Collins was among the first to criticize the price of the concert tickets. When invited to appear, he refused, saying Diana was the "people's princess," and the tickets should have been at a price most people could afford.
Elton John, who sang at Diana's funeral, declined to perform. So did former Beatle Paul McCartney. Some stars who declined to perform cited scheduling problems.
Among those scheduled to appear before the crowd of 15,000 were veteran British pop singer Cliff Richard, opera singer Lesley Garrett, Chris de Burgh, David Hasselhoff, Sheryl Crow, Jimmy Ruffin, Wet Wet Wet and Lighthouse Family.
Britain's major television channels were offered the live rights "but did not want them," a spokeswoman for Spencer said.
A lesser-known cable TV pay channel will broadcast the concert live at a charge of 5.99 pounds ($9.50). The BBC has bought the recorded rights to the concert, which it plans to air on July 1, Diana's birthday. She would have been 37.
On the same day, Althorp will be opened to the public for two months to allow people to view the site where Diana is buried on a small island.
The island is off-limits to the public, but people can visit a museum dedicated to her memory. About 2,500 visitors are expected daily until August 30, at a price of 9.5 pounds ($15).
Much of the British media has criticized Spencer, accusing him of cashing in on Diana's death.
"The money will go to a worthy cause," British journalist Jane Moore said. "But I think after that, the view has to be -- let's give it a rest now."
Newspapers have not forgiven Spencer for his outspoken attack on the media at Diana's funeral, when he blamed journalists for hounding her mercilessly.
At the time, Spencer pledged that his sister would find the privacy in death that she was denied in life. But within a few months he reversed himself, announcing that Althorp would open to tourists, then organizing the Diana Tribute concert.
The turnaround was inevitable, Moore says.
"He does realize that there is going to be some demand from the public, so he is trying, I think, to find some kind of balance."
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