How prince won royal film deal

Prince Edward's television company won the battle to make a film about the restoration of Windsor Castle thanks to a heavy subsidy from officials working on behalf of the Queen.

The BBC was one of many broadcasters interested in making a programme in the wake of the fire that destroyed a fifth of the castle in 1992. But the high cost of regular filming over such a long period of time and the fee that the broadcasting company would have incurred meant no deal was completed.

In the meantime, the Royal Collection, a department of the royal household that administers its art treasures, including the contents of the palaces, paid for film crews to record the pounds 37m work. Last year, after no deal had been done with a broadcast organisation, it handed over free use of the footage to Ardent Productions, a company set up by Prince Edward. The resultant film was sold to ITV for an undisclosed sum, and shown in November as part of the Network First series.

Timed to mark the Queen and Prince Philip's golden wedding anniversary, Windsor Restored was described by television critics as a "family video" that lacked detail and contained "forelock-tugging fiction". It was strong on interviews with members of Prince Edward's close family.

Dickie Arbiter, chief press officer at Buckingham Palace, said last week that television companies were "beating at the door" after the fire. There were unsuccessful negotiations with the BBC and Pearson, a company with which the Royal Collection had a publishing deal and which also owns Thames TV, now operating as a production house.

Royal hunt of the son, Section 2, page 16

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