UK tabloid: Duchess offered access for cash

FILE - In this Oct. 22, 2007 file photo Britain's Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson arrives at the third annual Quill Awards,

LONDON—Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson feels devastated after she was secretly recorded apparently offering to sell access to her ex-husband Prince Andrew in return for 500,000 pounds ($724,000), her spokeswoman said Sunday.

The tabloid News of the World posted video on its website that appears to show Ferguson discussing payment terms. She is heard to say “500,000 pounds when you can, to me, open doors.”  Asked if she was referring to the prince, she said: “Yeah.”

The newspaper said Ferguson, 50, spoke to an undercover reporter posing as a businessman.   Andrew is an international British trade ambassador. The newspaper said he knew nothing of the meeting.  The report is embarrassing, but there is no suggestion Ferguson did anything illegal.

Ferguson’s spokeswoman, Kate Waddington, confirmed the recording was authentic. She said the duchess was “devastated” and regretted the embarrassment she had caused.  Ferguson married Andrew, who is fourth in line to the throne, in 1986. They had two children, princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, before divorcing in 1996.

Since then Ferguson has written children’s books, made television documentaries and acted as a spokeswoman for Weight Watchers.  She also has struggled financially and has complained that her divorce settlement was stingy.  Recently the company set up to manage her U.S. career in publishing, public speaking and media work, Hartmoor LLC, collapsed with debts of around $1 million.

Buckingham Palace said it does not speak for Ferguson, who is no longer a member of the royal family, and would not comment on the story.

Ferguson was flying Sunday to Los Angeles, where she is scheduled to receive an award for her charity work.

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