Biggest royal business flops revealed – sitcom axed after a series to company left £140K in red by Queen’s fave grandson | The Sun

THEY'RE known as The Firm – but when members of the Royal Family have tried to make it in the world of business, it hasn't always gone to plan.

Peter Phillips is the latest to launch a new venture, with the 45-year-old sharing plans for the UK’s largest ice rink to be opened at Kensington Palace this winter.

But it’s no secret that Princess Anne’s son hasn’t got the best track record with business endeavours.

After graduating from university, Peter turned his hand at event management, setting up corporate entertainment company Tailor Made Hospitality Limited in 2001.

Sadly it didn’t get the party started and was horribly in the red with net liabilities of £140,000 when it last filed accounts in 2003.

Seemingly unperturbed Peter, said to be the late Queen’s favourite grandson, stuck with corporate entertainment – this time for the Williams' Formula 1 racing team.


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The since-disgraced banker Fred ‘The Shred' Goodwin, who was stripped of his knighthood after his role in bringing down the Royal Bank of Scotland during the 2008 financial crash, hired him to run its sponsorship of the team in 2005.

This placed him amid what was later described as an “exceptionally lavish set-up” in which phenomenal sums were spent on hospitality for guests during races.

Peter then came under fire in 2020 for trading on his royal connections in a Jersey milk advert which appeared on Chinese TV.

The Jersey milk was sold by a multinational corporation called Bright Dairies – owned by the Shanghai municipal government.

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Peter came under fire in 2020 for appearing in an advert for Jersey milk on Chinese TV

It's thought he raked in "tens of thousands" of pounds for the appearance, but it didn't do his reputation much good.

The Cabinet Office was urged to probe his alleged "cashing in" on his royal links, with MPs branding the adverts "crass" and former Home Office minister Norman Baker claiming strict rules had been broken.

Peter declined to comment at the time, while couriers pointed out he is not a working royal and does not receive taxpayers’ money.

Here, we take a look at other members of the Firm whose businesses have royally flopped…  

Canned sitcom

Prince Edward launched his TV business Ardent Productions in 1993 after dropping out of the Marines.

He put £205,000 into the company, while another £700,000 came from investors.

Edward once claimed it would become one of the top 12 independent production firms by 2000, but it failed to get a single commission in its first year.

In 1995 there appeared to be a breakthrough when he fronted a short series on the niche sport of real tennis for Channel 4.

The channel then paid £2million for the company's political soap opera Annie's Bar, but later dropped the sitcom after it failed to attract not even a million viewers.

Ardent then put forward a game show called Glam Slam, which featured two drag queen hostesses, but it didn’t make it any further than the pilot stage.

Prince Edward’s salary at Ardent reportedly peaked at £119,000 in 1998.

The only year that the company gained a profit was in 2001, when Edward did not charge Ardent the £50,000 annual rent for the stables at Bagshot Park.

That same year the company got into hot water when a two-man camera crew filmed Edward’s nephew Prince William at the University of St. Andrews.

It violated a press agreement about William's privacy at the time. A statement by Ardent claimed that the filming took place without Prince Edward's knowledge.

Edward, 59, stepped down from Ardent in 2002 and the company went into liquidation in 2009. It was left with assets of just £40.27. 

The company was dubbed “a sad joke in the industry”.

Shut up shop

King Charles was forced to close his organic fruit and vegetable store in 2013 after eight years due to falling trade and rising cost of produce.

The Veg Shed, located in Tetbury, sold fruit, veg and meat from the Duchy Home Farm at his Gloucestershire home in Highgrove.

It shut down after the former Prince of Wales admitted it was no longer financially viable.

"The Veg Shed has closed in response to consumer trends and a preference for shopping remotely," a spokeswoman for Clarence House said.

A statement on The Veg Shed website added: "This has been a difficult decision for us to take, and we would like to apologise for the inconvenience this will cause and would like to thank all our customers for their valued support and custom."

In 2022 Charles, 74, also temporarily shut his award-winning restaurant because of staff shortages.

The Rothesay Rooms, near Balmoral, which was run by the Prince’s Foundation, told customers it would re-open in the summer.

However, in November 2022 it was revealed it would be taken over by hospitality provider BaxterStorey in early 2023.

The King’s charity still retain the lease of the venue and let it to the company for an undisclosed sum.

The restaurant was originally founded by Charles in 2015 in a bid to drive tourism and employment to the area after a fire in the village, followed by flooding.

Show axed

Prince Harry and wife Meghan Markle formally shut down their UK-based Sussex Royal company in 2020 after stepping back as royals.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex appointed a voluntary liquidator to wind up the London-based charity, which they renamed MWX Trading in August last year.

The move to dissolve the foundation was in line with the late Queen stating that the couple can no longer use “royal” in the branding of their future ventures. 

Harry, 38, and Meghan, 42, went on to sign an estimated £18million deal with Spotify, but they parted ways in June after just one series of their podcast Archetypes.

US sources claimed the couple were let go after failing to meet “productivity requirements”.

It came after Meghan’s animated series Pearl was axed by Netflix last year due to cutbacks.

Meanwhile Harry, who appeared in Netflix’s six-part docuseries Harry & Meghan alongside his wife in 2022, released his new solo show Heart of Invictus last month.

However, it failed to make the streaming giant’s top ten.

£19million lawsuit

She has a string of impressive businesses to her name, but not all of Sarah Ferguson’s projects have been a money making success.

In May, it was reported the Duchess of York is facing a £19million lawsuit over her failed media investment company Gate Ventures.

The 63-year-old was a director, alongside Ofcom chairman Lord Grade, before it went into administration in 2020. Liquidators are said to be seeking to recoup the money.

Gate Ventures made more than £500,000 of “unexplained” loans to the Duchess, according to the Sunday Times. This also includes £232,000 to her tea and dinnerware company Ginger & Moss. 

The publication reported that the loan has not been repaid and that her recent offer of repayment was rejected because it was too low.

Back in 2006 Sarah, the ex-wife of Prince Andrew, founded lifestyle company Hartmoor LLC in the US, set up to help with her "career in publishing, media and public speaking".

But it collapsed in 2009, leaving her with a debt of £630,000.

More crying over spilt milk

Like Peter, Princess Diana’s niece Lady Kitty Spencer was also criticised for exploiting royal connections to endorse Satine Jersey milk in China.

The 32-year-old was seen posing in an emerald dress with a cup of tea in a photoshoot at the British Museum in 2020.


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It was reported that the model told Chinese journalists: “The day of the Royal Family usually begins with a cup of milk or a cup of tea.”

A press release issued by the milk company read: “Kitty Spencer, niece of the late Princess Diana, made an authentic English breakfast tea with Jersey milk and shared the story of Jersey milk and the British Royal Family.”

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