Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, has found herself in a scandal that has put her, and her former husband, into a deep hole.
A reporter from the tabloid News of the World posed as an international businessman and met with the 50 year-old Duchess recently. This was all done on video unbeknown to the Duchess.
On the tape, she is recorded saying a half million pounds would “open doors” to the pretend-businessman. Sarah then revealed that she was referring to her former husband, who met the “most amazing people”.
She gave the reporter her bank details for future payments, adding “then you open up all the channels . . . then you meet Andrew and that’s fine. And that’s when you really open up whatever you want.”
The Duchess agreed to arrange for a meeting between the man and Andrew, all in exchange for cash – $40,000 to be exact. The video seems to show her accepting the money.
When the tabloid exposed the Duchess, it made headlines across the UK. Many questioned her financial state and even her judgment.
Sarah released a statement, apologizing for her actions. “I very deeply regret the situation and the embarrassment caused,” she said.
“It is true that my financial situation is under stress. However, that is no excuse for a serious lapse in judgement and I am very sorry that this has happened.”
She also insisted that the Duke had no knowledge of her meeting with the pretend-businessman, as did News of the World. Even Buckingham Palace released a statement defending Andrew.
“The Duke of York categorically denies any knowledge of any meeting or conversation between the Duchess of York and the News of the World journalist. Since 2001 he has carried out his role of Special Representative with complete and absolute propriety and integrity.”
The British anti-monarchist group, Republic, is know calling for an inquiry into the Duke being a trade envoy.
According to the Times Online, the Duke’s role may now be in jeopardy.
“The timing of this couldn’t be worse and this whole affair may affect the ability of the Prince to clinch those vital deals,” said Stephen Alambritis, of the Federation of Small Businesses. “When the pound is so weak and following the recent uncertainty about the election, his job is even more important than ever.”
Alambritis now wants the Prince’s office and the UK Trade & Investment to work at clearing his name. “It has to be done to stop the UK’s trade name being dragged down. Intrigue is not the way we do business.”
Sarah Ferguson has had a moments of embarrassment and scandal before. In 1992, while she was still married to Prince Andrew, it was revealed she was having an affair when photos showed her vacationing with another man.
That incident led to her divorce from the Duke.
But now, this scandal may further harm her relationship with the British royal family.
“Of course certain members of the royal family have never been in the Fergie camp and this will do nothing to endear her to them,” said BBC royal correspondent June Kelly.
Sources: Daily Telegraph, BBC, Times Online