The Royal Family made a deal with the media that William should be allowed to persuade his studies without press intrusion, and this was largely adhered to. However, Edward ‒ whose line of work at the time was in television production ‒ was accused of overstepping the mark with regards to his own family. Edward founded his own TV production company called Ardent Productions, which was involved in the production of a number of documentaries and dramas.
Several of these centred around the Royal Family, including a documentary he made about his great uncle, Edward VIII ‒ later the Duke of Windsor ‒ which sold well worldwide.
However, in September 2001, an ardent two-man film crew allegedly invaded the privacy of Edward’s nephew, Prince William, while he was studying at the University of St Andrews.
The pair were found in the Fife town just days after William arrived at the university.
This went against industry guidelines regarding his privacy at the time, and Charles was reportedly “incandescent with rage”.
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Ardent denied that it was trying to film the prince and says it had permission to be on campus.
The company claimed the footage was for an existing deal with an American cable company to make ‘The A-Z of Royalty’.
Nevertheless, the Earl of Wessex reportedly apologised to the Queen for the alleged “stalking” of William and agreed to stop making programmes about the Royal Family.
According to senior royal officials, Edward made it clear he regretted that the Royal Family was embarrassed by the episode and his brother enraged by it.
The trip was postponed in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks in the US.
However, she later addressed it in a private meeting with Edward, in which it is believed she demanded an explanation of what happened and how a similar incident can be prevented.
Officials close to the Queen were critical of Ardent’s role in Scotland and said it was strange if Edward believed his company would have special access.
One told The Telegraph: “We have made it clear that Ardent will not be treated any differently from other television companies.”
Prince Charles’ aides allegedly told the outlet that he was convinced the whole thing was “an accident waiting to happen” and believed Edward should give up either his business or his royal role.
These events were just two months after an inquiry into business interest in the Royal Family.
Lord Luce had introduced stricter guidelines on how members of the Royal Family should avoid a conflict of interest between their royal and business roles.
One of these rules was that Royal Family members with companies should appoint a “watchdog” to identify “danger areas”.
In March 2002, Edward announced that he would step down as production director and joint managing director of Ardent to concentrate on his public duties and to support the Queen during her Golden Jubilee year.
Ardent Productions was voluntarily dissolved in June 2009, with assets which were reduced to just £40.