Sarah Ferguson was caught on tape accepting cash from an undercover journalist in exchange for access to her ex husband, Prince Andrew, Britain’s special representative for international trade and investment.
“Five hundred thousand pounds [approx $750,000] when you can, to me… [to] open doors,” Ferguson, 50, says on videotape during a meeting at a swanky London apartment, according to the British tabloid News of the World, which also printed a transcript of the conversation.
“Then you open up all the channels, whatever you need, whatever you want… We can do so much,” she went on. “If you want to meet him in your business, look after me and he’ll look after you.”
Ferguson, a former Weight Watchers spokeswoman, appears to ask the reporter, who is posing as an international tycoon, for $40,000 in cash, and $720,000 by wire transfer “if you want a deal with Andrew… and then you meet Andrew.”
After a pile of money is show on a coffee tape, the duchess puts her head in her hands (it’s unclear if she’s smiling or crying), and then moments later, hauls away a black computer bag stuffed with the cash, which is described as a fee for “doing the big deal with Andrew.”
Ferguson says that Andrew was aware of the deal, but the newspaper says he was not.
“I will listen to the friendship talk between you two. And then I do it… You two talk. I listen. Then I activate,” she said. “He meets the most amazing people. And he just throws them my way.”
Ferguson wed the Duke of York, who is fourth in line to the throne, in 1986, but they split 10 years later. They are parents to two daughters, Beatrice, 21, and Eugenie, 20.
“He’s so amazing,” Ferguson says on the videotape. “We’re the happiest divorced couple in the world.”
The royal family was unavailable to comment. Fergie said in a statement that she had money problems but “that is no excuse for a serious lapse in judgment, and I am very sorry that this has happened. I very deeply regret the situation and the embarrassment caused.”
Fergie has lost millions in business ventures (including the closing of her promotional firm, Hartmoor, last year, which she poured $2 million into), but still preferred to travel first class and in a chauffeur-driven Bentley.
Her $3 million contract with Weight Watchers expired in 2007, and according to the Times of London, she had to scale back her lavish 50th birthday party to a family meal because she couldn’t afford it.
– US Magazine
THE Duchess of York has apologised for a “serious lapse in judgment” after she was caught in a newspaper sting selling access to Prince Andrew.
Sarah Ferguson admitted having financial problems, and offered to leave Prince Andrew’s royal residence.
Prince Andrew’s “penniless” former wife was said to be “devastated and regretful”.
The apology came after she agreed to be paid 500,000 ($850,000) by a journalist posing as a businessman, in a video that was secretly filmed by the News of the World newspaper.
In return for the money, the paper said she promised to introduce the undercover reporter to the prince, who is Britain’s Special Representative for International Trade and Investment.
As well as making the deal for 500,000, the footage also showed Ferguson accepting a briefcase containing a $US40,000 downpayment and boasting: “Look after me and he (Andrew) will look after you … you’ll get it back tenfold. I can open any door you want.”
In the video, Ferguson had suggested the prince knew about the discussions.
After the publication of the report yesterday, the duchess issued an apology and stressed the prince had not been aware of the meetings.
“I very deeply regret the situation and the embarrassment caused,” she said in a statement.
“It is true that my financial situation is under stress, however, that is no excuse for a serious lapse in judgment and I am very sorry that this has happened.
“I am sincerely sorry for my actions,” she added.
Ferguson said that the prince was “not aware or involved in any of the discussions that occurred.”
The prince yesterday returned from a visit to Singapore for crisis talks with the Queen on how to minimise the damage.
“It is an appalling breach of trust,’ said a source close to Prince Andrew. “His reputation is being put at risk by a woman he still loves and has stood by for many years both emotionally and financially.”
But he faces a dilemma. If he accepts Sarah’s offer to move out, he has no idea where she will go or who will pay for her accommodation. There is also the risk that, outside the royal fold, she could be a loose cannon causing further mayhem.
“We have been here so many times before with the duchess,” said one senior royal insider. “She’s offered to leave before but she never goes.” Last night the revelations appeared to be taking their toll on the duchess as she flew in to Los Angeles.
She looked red-eyed and stunned as she arrived to attend an awards ceremony for her work with disadvantaged children.
“When I got on that flight today I thought phew, I’ve had a heavy day,” Ferguson told the audience.
“I learnt today about making a difference. Most importantly I learned I hate grown-ups and I love children.”
The Queen was said to be dismayed by the conduct of her former daughter-in-law and the embarrassment it has heaped on her grandchildren Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie.
In her taped indiscretions, the duchess claimed to be living off the trust funds of her daughters, which were funded by the late Queen Mother.
A friend of Fergie said: “Andrew will be apoplectic and she knows she will now have to extricate herself from the house and move elsewhere – although God knows where she will go. She hasn’t a penny to her name.”
- Herald Sun with AFP