Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Aren't the First Royal Family Members to Become TV Producers

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex's production company is set to make documentaries, docu-series, feature films, scripted shows and children's programming exclusively for Netflix

Prince Edward
Prince Edward, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. Photo: PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry announced Wednesday that they're starting a production company with a multiyear deal to make content exclusively for Netflix — but they're not the first members of the British royal family to work in the world of television.

Prince Edward, Queen Elizabeth's youngest son, launched a production company for television and theater named Ardent Productions in 1993 after dropping out of the Marines.

Although an ITV documentary about Prince Edward's great-uncle Edward VIII — who famously abdicated the throne to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson — was well-received, Ardent Productions was known as "a sad joke" to those in the industry, according to a 2002 article from The Guardian. When Prince Edward left the company in 2002, there was only one year it reported a profit — when Prince Edward did not charge Ardent its usual £50,000 annual rent for the stables at Bagshot Park.

"As time has gone on, their incompetence has become more and more obvious," an industry insider told The Guardian. "There have been very small examples of vanity TV companies before, but not on this scale. 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."

Prince Edward
Prince Edward on his first day at Ardent Productions in 1993. Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty

Ardent Productions also got into hot water when a two-man film crew from the company filmed Edward's nephew Prince William at the University of St. Andrews, violating a press agreement about William's privacy. A statement by Ardent claimed that the filming took place without Prince Edward's knowledge.

Prince Edward
Statement from Ardent Productions. PA Images via Getty

Prince Edward went onto become a full-time working royal along with his wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex, undertaking engagements on behalf of the Queen. According to his biography page on the royal family's website, the Earl of Wessex "has a strong personal interest in the Arts and is Patron of a number of organisations within this area" and "whenever possible, His Royal Highness greatly enjoys attending plays and concerts."

The Duke And Duchess Of Sussex Visit Ireland
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. Gareth Fuller-Pool/Getty

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Meghan and Prince Harry have signed a multiyear deal with Netflix. Their unnamed production company is set to make documentaries, docu-series, feature films, scripted shows and children’s programming exclusively for the streaming giant.

"Our lives, both independent of each other, and as a couple have allowed us to understand the power of the human spirit: of courage, resilience, and the need for connection," Meghan and Harry said in a statement. "Through our work with diverse communities and their environments, to shining a light on people and causes around the world, our focus will be on creating content that informs but also gives hope."

They added, "As new parents, making inspirational family programming is also important to us, as is powerful storytelling through a truthful and relatable lens. We are pleased to work with Ted and the team at Netflix whose unprecedented reach will help us share impactful content that unlocks action."

<a href="" data-inlink="true">Prince Harry</a>, Duke of Sussex, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and their baby son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor
Archie, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. Samir Hussein/WireImage

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Meghan, 39, and Prince Harry, 35, moved to Los Angeles with 1-year-old son Archie in March after stepping down from their senior royal roles. They recently bought a home in Santa Barbara, about 95 miles north of L.A.

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