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I beg your pardon, I never promised you a (Princess Di) rose garden

Domain names just part of dispute

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An American businesswoman, Bonnie Masterson, has caused some bristling of skirts in England's gardens through the promotion of a rose garden in commemoration of the late Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales.

Ms Masterson has used her position as vice-president of the Royal National Rose Society (RNRS) to raise awareness and money for a Diana rose garden and registered numerous domains names, connected to Diana Spencer, under her own name.

Ms Masterson contacted the society through the Internet, offering to raise £20 million for a Diana rose garden and put £16,000 towards the cost. She also registered 15 domain names including EnglandsRose.com, DianasRoses.com, DazzlingDiRose.com, ThePeoplesPrincessRose.com, the cheesy CandleintheWindRose.com and so on.

The domains were soon part of an arbitration dispute brought by CMG Worldwide - the representative company of the Princess Diana memorial fund. However, the National Arbitration Forum ruled for Ms Masterson, saying the domains did not infringe any Diana trademarks. It did however make a criticism of "strangers who seek to exploit the names of persons, living or dead, for mere commercial gain".

Ms Masterson uses the EnglandsRose.com site to promote the RNRS' Historic Trust and the various specially bred roses that carry names reminiscent of the late Diana Spencer (it also describes Ms Masterson as a "visionary" and contains so much saccharine you'd be advised to take a sick bag with you). The names of the roses tie in with many of the registered domains and are sold from the site. This has caused a dispute between Ms Masterson and the Spencer family.

However, while contributions are encouraged on the site, the Guardian has revealed that the Historic Trust through which Ms Masterson promised to raise £20 million over three years has yet to be established and as such no one has any idea how much money has so far been donated.

The decision to give Ms Masterson a 25 per cent commission on the fund raising has also caused acrimony. While she says that 25 per cent is not a large amount of commission in the US, the RNRS' president has resigned over the matter.

Ms Masterson has also decided not to contribute the £16,000 she said she would. Plus claims that the rose garden had the full backing of the Royal family have turned out not to be true. Only the Queen Mother - the society's patron - has given the project her full blessings. A suggestion that it is the only Diana tribute is also wrong.

Today, the Charity Commission has been called in to review the entire project, and the £20 million dream of a Diana rose garden looks as though it will be lost. Don’t fret though: there will still be another 30 Diana gardens to chose from. ®

Related Links

RNRS site
England's Rose.com
The NAF decision in favour of Ms Masterson

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