Prince Edward: Queen's Youngest Son Gets Royal Palm Beach Treatment

By Chaffee, Kevin | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), March 13, 1997 | Go to article overview
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Prince Edward: Queen's Youngest Son Gets Royal Palm Beach Treatment

Chaffee, Kevin, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)

PALM BEACH - More and more members of the Windsor family are working outside the royal fold these days. Viscount Linley, Princess Margaret's son, has a successful woodworking business; Prince and Princess Michael of Kent make so many paid appearances they're known as "Rent-a-Royals"; the irrepressible Duchess of York has her children's books and recently signed on as Weight Watchers' new spokeswoman.

Now Prince Edward, 33, who continues to maintain a part-time schedule of official duties, has gotten one foot firmly placed outside the palace door as well. His London-based TV production company, Ardent, has made waves on both sides of the Atlantic with several critically acclaimed programs, most notably "Edward on Edward," a documentary about his great-uncle, King Edward VIII (later known as the Duke of Windsor). A $2.2 million deal with CBS, which was announced in January, will keep him busy on additional projects for the next two years.

At a private dinner-dance given in his honor in Palm Beach Saturday night, the youngest son of Queen Elizabeth II mingled easily with about 60 mostly older guests, charming them utterly with his broad smile and bonhomie.

Coming at the end of a visit on behalf of his father's youth organization, the Duke of Edinburgh's International Awards Scheme, the party, he said, was a splendid way to top off a whirlwind tour that included lunch Friday in New York City, a dinner at the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia with Tom Clancy that night, and another lunch the next day in Nassau, Bahamas, before his arrival in Palm Beach.

The prince uses the name "Edward Windsor" professionally, but no one was calling him "Edward," much less "Ed," during pre-dinner cocktails. It was strictly "Your Royal Highness" on first reference and "Sir" thereafter.

"Don't ask him about his girlfriend [Sophie Rhys-Jones] either," one guest warned, noting that, like the other royals, the prince prefers conversing with strangers about the weather and other breezy subjects during social engagements.

It turned out, however, that he didn't mind discussing his TV career if the questions didn't get too pointed.

Although the prince's company has produced a variety of programs over the past three years (a sitcom, "Annie's Bar," which was dropped after one season; a documentary about a Grand Prix racing car funded by Adolf Hitler; and a three-part series about famous ghosts in the British Isles), its future had been in doubt.

Losses were reported in the $1.5 million range at the end of 1996, and it seemed unlikely that his financial backers, who include the Sultan of Brunei, would be providing additional funding. The success of "Edward on Edward," however, changed all that.

Broadcasters who turned down his proposals to make films on general subjects are far more interested in royal themes produced by an "insider," and the prince has agreed to make such films, however reluctantly.

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