Fergie’s scandal sparks royal backlash

The Duchess of York has been
condemned as “shoddy and grubby” by a government minister after she
was caught trying to sell access to her former husband for $722,000.

The Duchess, Sarah Ferguson, who is
known in the tabloids as “Fergie,” accepted $40,000 in cash as a down
payment on the deal from an undercover reporter posing as a businessman who
wanted to meet the Duke of York. The Duke, Prince Andrew, is a trade ambassador
for Britain.

She told the reporter: “Look
after me and I’ll look after you — you’ll get it back tenfold.” She
added: “I can open any door you want.” After the publication of the
report, the Duchess issued a full apology for her actions and also said Prince
Andrew, Queen Elizabeth II’s second son, had not been aware of the meetings.

“I very deeply regret the
situation and the embarrassment caused,” Ferguson 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.”

In a separate statement, a
spokesman for Buckingham Palace said Prince Andrew, the Duke of York,
“categorically” denied having any knowledge of the meeting between
his ex-wife and the undercover reporter.

Lynne Featherstone, the Home Office
Minister, took the unusual step of criticizing the Duchess, saying:

“It’s really disappointing
because she went through all that terrible stuff at the beginning where we all
hated her, then she redeemed herself by working like a normal human being to
save herself and her children and now this, and it’s shoddy and grubby and
really upsetting.”

The Liberal Democrat MP added:
“She says she’s got no money; it’s not much of an excuse.”

Ministers have an unwritten
agreement that they never criticize members of the Royal Family, and while the
Duchess lost her Royal status when she and the Duke divorced in 1996, she has
previously been afforded the same courtesy.

The Duchess, who is reported to
have debts of more than $1.2 million, said she was “regretful” and
“devastated” by her actions.

Buckingham Palace declined to
comment, but the Duchess is expected to meet her former husband later this week
to explain herself.

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