Prince Harry is known as the fun-loving prince, but a new BBC2 drama sheds light on his royal ancestors who lived a somewhat hedonistic lifestyle when they were away from their official duties.
Dancing on the Edge shows how Harry's distant relatives the Prince of Wales – who later became Edward VIII and abdicated the throne – and his younger brother Prince George, Duke of Kent, turned London's thriving jazz scene into their playground in the 1930s.The period piece has a feel of Downton Abbey, and more interestingly, it shows how the Queen's uncles quietly enjoyed the same kind of colourful lifestyle that Prince Harry so publically leads today. Creator and director Stephen Poliakoff – who has previously documented British royal history in The Lost Prince – reveals the link between two senior royals and a group of jazz musicians in the pre-war era, and he knows he has a winning formula on his hands.
Speaking about the project he said: "When I was researching The Lost Prince 10 years ago, I learnt that Prince George, the future Duke of Kent, grew up to be this playboy prince, and knocked around London with his brother the Prince of Wales, who became Edward VIII (pictured above). "They visited jazz clubs, got close to some jazz musicians. I found that fascinating. The idea of looking at the 1930s not through the eyes of the princes but those of the black jazz band just stayed with me until I had to attempt it."
Working from diary entries and meticulous research, Stephen defines the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Kent's lifestyles as "indulgent" and says they far surpassed Prince Harry's free-spirited approach to life, the difference being that the vintage royals were cocooned in the kind of privacy that would be impossible in today's world.
As well as shining the spotlight on royal pastimes, the sumptuous drama documents the rise and rise of a jazz group whose music was embraced by the upper classes.The stellar cast includes Hollywood staple John Goodman, British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor and leading lady Janet Montgomery, who had a role in Black Swan opposite Natalie Portman. Dancing on the Edge sashays onto screens February 4 on BBC 2