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The BBC's Jennie Bond
"All the Royal family are agreed this is an issue of great importance"
 real 56k

Saturday, 7 July, 2001, 00:36 GMT 01:36 UK
Royals reach agreement on business interests
Duke of Edinburgh
The duke believes Royals can juggle duty and careers
Members of the Royal Family have reached agreement on guidelines governing their business affairs, according to Buckingham Palace.

The guidelines arise from an inquiry by the Lord Chamberlain, Lord Luce, a former foreign office minister, which was set up after indiscreet remarks made by Prince Edward's wife, the Countess of Wessex, were secretly taped.

But they are understood to be similar to the existing rules, which merely emphasise the need to be very careful about the choice of business partners.

Original proposals would have prevented the Earl and Countess of Wessex from continuing their film production and public relations businesses, while they remained working members of the Royal Family.

The Earl and Countess of Wessex
The duke has endorsed a future for working Royals
Sources say the Royal Family has been divided over whether to clamp down on the business activities of minor members of the House of Windsor, ever since the indiscretions of the Countess of Wessex, formerly Sophie Rhys-Jones.

The fall-out of her highly-publicised comments to a News of the World reporter posing as an Arab sheik, which led to suggestions that she was using her royal connections to win business, forced her to resign as chairman of her public relations company, RJ-H.

HRH Prince Charles
Prince Charles reportedly differs on working Royals
Prince Edward also faced criticism for allegedly using taxpayer-funded trips abroad to drum up business.

Prince Charles and the Princess Royal reportedly thought their younger brother Edward should devote his main energies to charity work, and that his wife should sever her public relations links.

But the queen's husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, reportedly over-ruled them, insisting that Prince Edward and Sophie should be allowed to keep earning, to help pay for the 250,000 annual upkeep of their Surrey home, Bagshot Park.

Prince Philip is said to be opposed to major reform of the monarchy and is said to have decided to draw a line over the plans to end business links.

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