New England's biggest banking company has been appointed to help manage donations to a charitable trust established in honor of the late Princess of Wales.
Fleet Financial Group in Boston has been designated the official collection point in the United States for the Diana, Princess of Wales, Memorial Fund, the British Embassy said.
A Fleet spokesman said the bank got the job on the basis of a referral by its London-based partner, National Westminster Bank PLC.
The fund will support several British and international charities that were long patronized by the Princess. These include the National AIDS Trust, the Leprosy Mission, the Red Cross, the English National Ballet, and Centrepoint, a charity for young homeless people in Britain.
The fund has seen a tremendous inflow of contributions since the Princess' death Aug. 31 in an automobile accident in Paris. The exact size of the fund has not been disclosed.
The memorial is the only fund endorsed by the Office of Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace in London.
Fleet has had a relationship with National Westminster Bank since 1995, when the Boston-based banking company agreed to buy Natwest's U.S. branch network. Since then, the two companies have had a joint venture to run cash management services in the United States and Europe.
"It's a symbol of our reciprocity and cooperation," said Michael Curran, executive vice president at Fleet in charge of international operations and cash management.
National Westminster Bank was appointed late last week to be the collection point for donations made in the United Kingdom and Europe.
NatWest's private banking unit, Coutts & Co., has had "associations with royalty for centuries," said a NatWest spokeswoman.
The British bank was asked by officials at Kensington Palace, the official residence of the Princess, to develop a worldwide collection network for donations, Mr. Curran said.
After an eight-hour "frenzy" of discussions with officials at Kensington Palace late Friday, Fleet set up a lockbox account to receive funds in this country, Mr. Curran said.
Fleet has handled a number of similar arrangements for public works projects. One of the biggest challenges will be to control expected bursts of activity during the next few weeks as donations begin pouring in, Mr. Curran said.
The bank will dedicate additional employees to the project at its Hartford cash management service center, depending on initial volume. "We are approaching this as if there will be a huge burst in activity," said Mr. Curran.
Cash management is usually a service provided to corporate clients. It relies heavily on automation and technology to track receivables for clients. Banks earn a fee for these services. However, Fleet will manage donations to the memorial fund at no charge, said a spokesman.
Donors in the United States can either mail checks to a special post office box established by Fleet or give by wire transfer. Gifts can also be made in person at any of Fleet's 1,200 branches throughout the Northeast, the spokesman said.