I was as horrified as the next person when I first heard about Sarah Ferguson’s attempt to sell access to her former husband and father of her children, Britain’s Prince Andrew Duke of York. Then I found out Ferguson receives a mere $20,000 in alimony annually from her royal ex.
Let me repeat that again. Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, former member of Britain’s royal family, is expected to get by on $20,000 a year. This is despite the fact that her ex-mother-in-law, Elizabeth II, is widely considered one of the richest women in the world, with an estimated personal net worth of about $400 million. If that’s not enough of a motive for Fergie’s sleazy attempt at salesmanship, I’m not sure what is.
A brief recap for those of you who haven’t heard the latest in the perils of the so-called Duchess of Pork: This past week, Britain’s News of the World tabloid revealed they’d run a sting on the poor Fergie, with an undercover journalist posing as a businessman willing to pay for the chance to meet Prince Andrew. With hidden cameras running, the former duchess agreed to arrange an encounter in exchange for a half a million pounds (that’s a little more than $700,000 on this side of the pond).
Ferguson apologized almost as soon as the ink was dry on the News of the World headlines. “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 judgment.”
As far as I am concerned, the only lapse in judgment Ferguson is guilty of and should apologize for is agreeing to take a piss-poor alimony settlement in the first place. She did it, according to reports at the time, to preserve her relationship with the royal family and spare her children a bruising divorce battle. The late Princess Diana, who suffered from no such compunctions, managed to wrangle $20 million out of the blue blooded cheapskates.
Sarah Ferguson’s always had a bit of a bad rap. We warmed to virginal, bulimic, self-pitying Princess Diana, forgiving her many sins (including sanctimony) while Sarah was always seen as down market. She got around, as they say, both before and after marriage. She got a bit blowsy with age, like many of us, so much so that she ended up as a Weight Watchers spokeswoman. Clearly she’s had her share of money management problems (Just where did all the funds from the endorsement deal with Weight Watchers go anyway? And what about the Budgie the Helicopter bucks?) but then, who among us in the ever-profligate United States is really prepared to throw the first stone on that one?
In fact, I am hoping this entire escapade gives the ever-plucky Fergie a few new endorsement deals. The many organizations out there lobbying for women to take better care of their funds could definitely use a sexy spokeswoman like Sarah. She could even make joint appearances with Suze Orman. And perhaps she would like to demonstrate how one can live on $20,000 annually by signing a deal with Target or Wal-Mart?
As for the royals, they should consider themselves lucky Fergie didn’t attempt auction off meet-and-greets with the entire bloody lot of them. The next time the House of Windsor needs to negotiate a divorce settlement, they might want to remember you get what you pay for in this world.
What do you think?