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The Independent Culture
USING HIS working title "Edward Windsor", according to Daily Variety, Prince Edward (below) will visit Los Angeles on 13 July to promote his latest "Crown & Country" TV documentary series, soon to be shown on American public television. Produced by Ardent Productions, the Sultan of Brunei- backed company, of which Edward is managing director and head of production, the series takes full advantage of its MD's royal connections, as usual, featuring "historical" subjects such as Windsor Castle and Sandringham.

Not all of Fast Eddie's previous bids to cash in on his family have been winners, however. Both a planned pounds 6m drama about the Queen Mother and a proposal to film the Royal Gala in honour of his mum's golden wedding anniversary came a cropper. Still, Fast Eddie reaped the free usage of extensive film footage paid for by the Royal Collection which documented the restoration of Windsor Castle. The result: a programme about Windsor's restoration that Fast Eddie sold to ITV for an undisclosed sum. His other royal winner was, of course, Edward On Edward, a documentary about the Duke of Windsor shown on Channel 4.

When the Queen dropped the Prince Formerly Known as Edward from the Civil List in 1993, she softened the blow by personally granting him pounds 96,000 a year in pocket money. Since then, his salary at Ardent was raised 20 per cent last November to pounds 114,125, despite the company running up more than pounds 1m in losses. Let us not forget Eddie's outrage earlier this year when, at another Hollywood beano, he was asked about the Mirror Group's docudrama about Princess Diana and Dodi. When asked if his company, which has attempted to capitalise on both his mother and his grandmother, might ever make a film about his late sister-in-law, Eddie said, "I think there are some subjects which are just too close and personal." Perhaps he means his fiancee?

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ONCE UPON a time new Labour campaigned on promises to enact a Freedom of Information Act. Whatever happened to it? One of Pandora's colleagues rang the Cabinet Office at 10 Downing Street the other day for an update. He was referred to Charles Ramsden, deputy director of the Freedom of Information Unit. Unfortunately, when he identified himself as an Independent journalist and asked to speak with the Unit's deputy director, he was told, "We don't speak to the press. You'll have to speak to the Cabinet Office."

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FOLLOWING MONDAY'S tough voting session on lowering the gay age of consent, a very jolly Westminster evening took place on College Green at the annual Lords and Commons Tug of War. Despite having two extra members on their team, the Commons team were yanked off into defeat by the stalwart Lords. Everyone then piled into the marquee behind Westminster Abbey for refreshments and a tombola. Pandora was pleased to see that Col. Blimp-lookalike Dr Keith Simpson, the Tories' junior spokesman for Defence, who'd earlier cast his vote against lowering the age of consent, was rewarded with a charming prize - a Valentino handbag.

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ON TUESDAY The Big Issue magazine helped to sponsor a social affairs conference held at the Purcell Room on the South Bank. How embarrassing when a Big Issue vendor, with permission to sell in the area, was suddenly thrown out by one of the magazine's PR people. The homeless vendor returned to the magazine's Clerkenwell offices and complained; the PR flack was rung. The vendor duly returned to the Purcell Room and was thrown out yet again. This time by security guards there to protect VIPs such as minister Alan Howarth and Downing Street special adviser Geoff Mulgan. The subject of this incredibly relevant, highly secure conference? "Social Exclusion: Narrowing the Divide".

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it seems that Gerald Malone, former Tory health minister and now executive editor at The European, has not been sacked by editor-in-chief Andrew Neil, pending the outcome of a formal complaint by assistant editor Nicola Davidson who accuses Malone of having struck her after she resisted his amorous advances. The restraint shown by Davidson in filing a complaint rather than resorting to physical knee-to-jerk retaliation was fortunate. Given how unpopular he was with many of the nation's health professionals during his ministerial tenure, it's doubtful if Malone would have enjoyed the emergency treatment he might have received at Casualty.

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