Decades before Meghan Markle and Prince Harry launched Archewell in 2020, Prince Edward started his production company, Ardent, in 1993. Similar to his nephew, the Duke of Edinburgh was accused of invading Prince William's privacy in 2001, leaving King Charles enraged.
Ardent wasn't lucrative, and in Robert Jobson's biography William's Princess, the author revealed the company hoped capturing footage of the Prince of Wales at St Andrews would make up for its financial losses.
"William was furious. He felt his uncle’s company’s actions had threatened to undermine the carefully nurtured relationship between St James’ Palace and the media, and in turn that it would threaten the entente cordiale between him and the press," he continued.
"When the story emerged, [King] Charles understandably went ballistic," the royal expert shared.
"He berated his youngest sibling, furiously demanding from the Queen that Edward be made to choose once and for all between his public duties and his television company — itself many believed little more than a vanity project dependent on Edward’s title for what little success it had," he added.
Edward's desire to record William led to Charles' team publicly addressing the former Marine's choices.
"Relations between the brothers plummeted to an all-time low as St James’ Palace publicly criticized Edward for his idiocy and the behavior of his production company," Jobson stated. "In unusually blunt terms, a spokeswoman for Prince Charles said that he was: 'Disappointed, very much so.'"
Meghan and Harry's journey through Hollywood is often compared to Edward and his wife, Sophie Wessex. The Sussexes secured several lucrative contracts, but their projects haven't secured consistent traffic — for example, Live to Lead and Heart of Invictus never made it to Netflix's top ten list.
Shortly after Spotify pulled the plug on their multimillion-dollar partnership, the duo were branded "flops" by the Wall Street Journal, and the comments parallel the press' response to Edward's creative pursuits.
British journalist Andy Beckett wrote about Ardent's legacy in 2002 after Edward stepped down from his position to return to being a senior-level royal.
"To watch Ardent's few dozen hours of broadcast output is to enter a strange kingdom where every man in Britain still wears a tie, where pieces to camera are done in cricket jumpers, where people clasp their hands behind their backs like guardsmen," Beckett penned.
"They're a sad joke in the industry, really," the source admitted. "As time has gone on, their incompetence has become more and more obvious."
"There have been very small examples of vanity TV companies before, but not on this scale," the insider said. "Any company, in any industry, that had burned through that much share capital without making a profit would've been closed down by its investors years ago."
Beckett wrote for The Guardian.