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Thursday, 27 September, 2001, 14:53 GMT 15:53 UK
Royal row over media breach
The Royal Family has become embroiled in a deepening row over allegations that a film crew hired by Prince Edward's firm intruded on the privacy of Prince William.

Prince Charles was said to be "incandescent" with rage that an agreement to allow his son to carry out his new university career without intrusion had apparently been broken by his brother's company, Ardent Productions.

University officials dismissed the company's claims that the film crew's presence at St Andrews had been authorised by its press office.

It said the TV crew continued to film in the town until late on Wednesday evening despite an agreement that all media would leave after a photocall arranged to mark the 19-year-old prince's arrival on Sunday.

Prince Edward
Prince Edward is managing director of the company
A statement from the university said that Ardent had approached its press office on Monday to seek permission to film and was advised that no authority would be given.

It also understood that St James's Palace, which represents Prince Charles and his son, also requested that the crew cease their activities in St Andrews.

On Wednesday, press officers from the university approached the crew in the town's North Street, which is close to a university hall of residence.

It is also near a lecture theatre used by students on Prince William's Art History degree course.

The crew were again advised that filming in the town risked breaking the spirit of the agreement.

Full knowledge and co-operation

A spokeswoman for St James's Palace expressed "disappointment" at the incident.

According to BBC Royal correspondent Jennie Bond, a "furious" Prince Charles phoned his brother twice on Wednesday demanding an explanation.

However, Ardent chairman, Malcolm Cockren, said Prince Edward was unaware of any filming on Wednesday and as soon as he became aware of the situation, he told the crew to stop.

Mr Cockren said: "For the record the filming in St Andrews on Wednesday by Ardent Productions was arranged with the full knowledge and co-operation of the university press office three weeks ago.

"Ardent Productions fully supports the restrictions on filming Prince William at St Andrews University and at no time did the crew attempt to film Prince William, gain unauthorised access or shoot on the campus.

Cease activities

"Prince William was completely unaware of the entire incident."

Mr Cockren said Prince Edward told the film crew to "cease activities" when he became aware of the situation and an investigation has been launched by the company.

Andrew Neil, Rector of St Andrews and journalist, said any intrusion by the crew from Ardent "beggared belief".

He said: "When I think of the effort we have gone to square the press and the rest of the media to allow William a normal undergraduate life along with all the other undergraduates at St Andrews.

It sets a terrible example to the rest of the media

Andrew Neil
"We knew when we were doing it that somebody would break it at some stage, either a tabloid that could not help itself or foreign paparazzi.

"But for it to be broken by a company owned by his own uncle - you just couldn't make it up."

Prince Edward is joint managing director of Ardent Productions Ltd, the television company he set up in 1993.

Mr Neil said that at one stage a scuffle broke out and even after Prince Edward had been informed of the situation the crew refused to leave.

"It sets a terrible example to the rest of the media," he said.

Andrew Neil
Andrew Neil: Condemnation
A spokeswoman for St James's Palace said: "It is quite disappointing as every other media organisation has left St Andrews to leave William the opportunity to start university in relative peace."

BBC Royal correspondent, Nicholas Witchell, said there was not much patience at St James's Palace with Prince Edward and wife Sophie in the light of this and previous controversies.

He said: "They are regarded in some quarters as a problem waiting to happen, and it has happened again."

The Broadcasting Standards Commission said that it can only consider a complaint about a programme after it has been broadcast in the UK on television or radio.

The BBC's Jennie Bond
"This is the last thing William might have expected"
Rector of St Andrews University Andrew Neil
'My first reaction was that the story couldn't be true'
John Bowker, editor of St Andrews' student paper
"We don't want to ever do anything about William - because he's a student"
See also:

27 Sep 01 | Scotland
Loophole in prince's privacy deal
24 Sep 01 | Scotland
Student prince starts university
21 Sep 01 | Scotland
No food at the inn for prince
31 Jan 01 | Scotland
William 'guards' request more cash
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